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Developing National Heritage policy for Wales

18 March 2008

Motor car - Babs

Researchers from the University have played a key role in the on-going development of a National Heritage policy for Wales.

Phil Parkes and Jane Henderson of the School of History and Archaeology have been working with CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales to survey the current Welsh museum sector and determine how and where improvements should be made.

The detailed survey looked at the subject, number and significance of collections in museums across Wales, as well as access and learning, audience development and physical aspects such as buildings, facilities and storage.

Other information collated included the numbers of staff and volunteers working in the sector, working patterns and finance including admission charges, budgets and funding and support arrangements. The findings have been published in the Welsh Assembly Government booklet Spotlight on Museums.

One of the significant items listed in Spotlight is 'Babs' which was the motor car used by Parry Thomas on his fatal attempt to break the World Land speed record at Pendine Sands in 1927. 'Babs' is now displayed at the Museum of Speed in Pendine.

Jane Henderson, of the School of History and Archaeology said: "We welcome the publication of Spotlight and are pleased that the research is already being used to develop practical and strategic actions for museums. We hope that our research will continue to inform policy and practice from the smallest community museum to the minister in the Welsh Assembly Government.

We must thank all the museums who participated in the research, the response rate of over 95 per cent of accredited museums will increase the impact of recommendations based on our findings."

The survey follows an earlier report, also involving the School of History and Archaeology, What’s in Store? which made a series of recommendations for the storage of material recovered from archaeological excavations.

As well as providing the Assembly Government with a tool to aid planning, the evidence gathered by the survey will provide the museum domain in Wales with a robust database covering many aspects of service provision and collections. The data will be revisited every four years to measure change and identify trends.