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Seminar: St Fagans conference on managing archaeological open-air musums

Monday, 25 May, 2015 to Friday, 29 May, 2015
Steve Burrow
Mared McAleavey
Number of Participants / Visitors / Audience: 

The St Fagans conference took place from 25 - 29 May 2015, including travel days. The conference was attended by over 90 people (including 47 demonstrator stalls at the craft festival), and was supported by staff from five Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales venues. Throughout the conference, delegates were hosted at: National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans National History Museum and Big Pit National Coal Museum.

The theme of the conference was the Management of archaeological open-air museums, and its aim was to encourage greater dialogue on the subjects specifically covered by WP2 as well as to provide directors from AOAMs the opportunity to discuss additional issues that they face.

Throughout Tuesday 26 May, delegates heard from a variety of speakers covering WP2 topics such as, the strategic direction of museums (David Anderson and David Eveleigh), specific management challenges such as volunteering, disabled access and arranging sleepovers (Andy Spencer, Linda Nielson Ask and Luke Winter), as well as site specific case studies from Directors (Barrie Andrian, Bob Croft and Maura Bell).

In addition, a WP6 seminar was held, looking at the cultural position of AOAMs within the wider landscape of heritage organisations. This was chaired and led by an esteemed panel of speakers from the Netherlands and Germany, with contributions from all OpenArch partners.

Wednesday 27 May began with an introduction to the management challenges facing St Fagans, and was followed by summaries from all OpenArch partners on progress with their work packages. The highlight of the day was a major craft festival run as part of WP4, and also as the culminating public event for OpenArch. It was attended by 5,418 members of the public and achieved a very high profile on Welsh language social media. During an enjoyable afternoon, the public got the opportunity to explore crafts as diverse as flint knapping, wood carving, leather working, rope making, slate splitting and bronze smelting. Six organisations provided staff exchanges to the festival, adding a clear European dimension to proceedings. Delegates also had the chance to continue to explore WP2 themes of green issues and sustainability through talks linked to the St Fagans gardens, farms and gallery construction projects. The day was brought to a close with a tour of the Iron Age roundhouses at St Fagans - a major product of WP2 - and a networking event allowing delegates and craft demonstrators to share their experiences.

Thursday 28 May was primarily a project management event. Hosted by Big Pit National Coal Museum, the main business of the day was the OpenArch Steering Committee at which partners discussed the current state of the project, work still to be done, and potential future collaborations.


Monday 25 May 2015
Arrival Day

Whole dayCoordinating arrivals from airports. Registration and check-in at the Royal Hotel, 88 St Mary Street, Cardiff (
19:00 – 21:00Welcome dinner at Pitch restaurant, 3 Mill Lane, Cardiff (

Tuesday 26 May 2015 -  Day 1
Venue: National Museum Cardiff

6:30 – 8:45Breakfast at Royal Hotel, Cardiff
8:45Bus departs from Westgate Street, at rear of hotel for National Museum Cardiff
9:15 – 13:00Morning Session, Oriel Suite, National Museum Cardiff
9:15 – 9:20House keeping
9:20 – 9:35Conference Welcome
David Anderson, Director General, Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru / President of the UK Museums Association.
9:35 – 10:45Session 1: Roundtable discussion (part 1)
Chaired by Martin Schmidt, Lower Saxon State Museum, Hanover / EXARC, DE / NL
 Papers by report authors:
Luc Eekhout, Heeswijk Castle / EXARC, NL
Margriet Lestraden, Lestraden Museum Consultancy, LV
Martin Schmidt, Lower Saxon State Museum, Hanover / EXARC, DE / NL
10:45 – 11:00Coffee break
11:00 – 12:00Session 2: Roundtable discussion (part 2)
Chaired by Martin Schmidt, Lower Saxon State Museum, Hanover / EXARC, DE / NL
 Position statements from OpenArch partners and discussion
12:00 – 13:00Session 3: Museum management (strategic approaches)
Chaired by Beth Thomas, St Fagans National History Museum, UK
 12:00 – 12:30 “Towards a master plan – consultation and considerations?”
David Eveleigh, Black Country Living Museum, UK
See PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare
12:30 – 13:30Lunch in Oriel Suite and time to visit the galleries
13:30 – 16:30Afternoon Session, Oriel Suite, National Museum Cardiff
13:30 – 15:00Session 4: Museum management (case studies)
Chaired by Linda Hurcombe, Exeter University, UK
 13:30 – 14:00 “Methods for mapping and developing universal accessibility at museums and cultural institutions, including archaeological open-air museums." Linda Nilsen Ask, Rogaland County Council, NO
See PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare
14:00 – 14:30 "A Viking Residential Experience.  Combining Fundamental Learning with the Reality of Generating Income."
Luke Winter, Ancient Technology Centre, UK
See PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare
14:30 – 15:00 “The Scottish Crannog Centre: sustainability in a self-funded archaeological open-air museum.”
Barrie Andrian, Scottish Crannog Centre, UK
See PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare
15:00 – 15:15Coffee break
15:15 – 16:30Session 5: Museum management (case studies)
Chaired by Beth Thomas, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, UK
 15:15 – 15:35 “The Avalon Moors Centre.”
Bob Croft, Somerset County Council, UK
See PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare
15:35 – 15:55 “Fairy tale or Scary-tale? Making ends meet at The Irish National Heritage Park …”
Maura Bell, Irish National Heritage Park, IE
See PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare
15:55 – 16:30 “Towards a Best Practise of Volunteer use within Archaeological Open-Air Museums: an overview with recommendations for future sustainability and growth.”
Andy Spencer, Ironbridge Institute, UK
See PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare
17:30 – 18:30Tour of Cardiff Castle (
A behind the scenes tour of a 19th-century recreation of a medieval castle
18.30 – 20.00Bus to Cardiff Bay
A guided walk around Cardiff Bay, Dr David Jenkins, Principal Curator, Transport, Amgueddfa Cymru
20:00Dinner in Ffresh, Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay restaurant (

Wednesday 27 May 2015  - Day 2
Venue: St Fagans National History Museum

6:30 – 8:45Breakfast at Royal Hotel, Cardiff
8:45Bus departs from Westgate Street, at rear of hotel for St Fagans National History Museum
9:15 – 16:00St Fagans National History Museum

10:00 – 16:00 Parallel activities

 9:15 - 12:20 Morning Session
Chaired by Manel Gomez, La Ciutadella Ibérica de Calafell, CT
9:30 – 10:00 Introductory lecture: St Fagans past and present Beth Thomas, Keeper of History and Archaeology, St Fagans National History Museum
See PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare
10:00 – 11:00
Session 1: Presentation of the results of OpenArch project work packages (part 1)
10:00 – 10:20 The dialogue with museum management (WP2). Björn Jakobsen, Fotevikens Museum, SE
10:20 – 10:40 The dialogue with visitors (WP3). Jack Veldman, Archeon, NL, and Milica Tapavički-Ilić, Archaeological Institute, RS
10:40 – 11:00   The dialogue with skills (WP4). Rüdiger Kelm, Archaeological-Ecological Centre Albersdorf, DE, and Alessia Pelillo, Parco Archeologico e Museo all’aperto della Terramara di Montale, IT
11:00 – 11:20 Coffee break
11:20 – 12:20 Session 2: Presentation of the results of OpenArch project work packages (part 2)
11:20 – 11:40 The dialogue with science (WP5). Linda Hurcombe, Exeter University, UK, and Leena Lehtinen, Kierikki Stone Age Centre, FI
11:40 – 12:00 The dialogue with museum organisations (WP6). Manel Gomez, La Ciutadella Ibérica de Calafell, CT, and Roeland Paardekooper, EXARC, NL
12:00 – 12:20  Communication and dissemination (WP7). Hein Klompmaker, Hunebedcentrum, NL
9:15 – 16:00 
OpenArch face to face meetings, in the Committee Room, St Fagans

12:20 – 17:00 
Craft Festival (open to the public from 10:00)
An opportunity to explore a variety of ancient and historic crafts demonstrated by craftspeople from Wales and across Europe

14:30 – 17:00 Timetabled guided tours (for conference delegates)
These tours must be pre-booked and will only run if there is sufficient interest. Please inform Steve or Mared by the end of Tuesday if you would like to attend.
14:30  Running a historic castle garden in an open-air museum, Gardening staff, St Fagans. Meet at the front door of the castle (no. 54 on your site plan)
15:30  Running a working farm in an open-air museum, Farm staff, St Fagans. Meet at Llwyn-yr-eos Farm (no. 6 on your site plan)
16:30  Introduction to the Gweithdy gallery construction site, Keir Group – Construction. Meet at Gweithdy (letter “A” on your site plan).

14:00 – 16:00 Celebration of OpenArch, in the Oakdale Institute (open to public)

14:00 – 17:00 Evaluating St Fagans (for conference delegates) An opportunity for conference delegates to review the approach to interpretation, visitor experience and craft skills adopted at St Fagans (self-led, evaluation forms)
 12:20 – 13:20 Buffet lunch provided in Oakdale Workmen’s Institute.
17:15 – 21:00Late afternoon and evening activities
 17:15 Tour of ongoing work at the Iron Age farm, Steve Burrow, St Fagans. Meet at Llwyn-yr-eos Farm (no. 6 on your site plan)
18:00 Networking event, barbeque and band for conference delegates and craft festival participants. Held near Maentwrog hayshed (no. 43 on your site plan)

Thursday 28 May 2015 - Day 3
Venue: Big Pit National Coal Museum

6:30 – 8:45Breakfast at Royal Hotel, Cardiff
8:45Bus departs from Westgate Street, at rear of hotel for Big Pit National Coal Mining Museum.
10:00 – 13:00Morning Session, Big Pit National Coal Museum
 10:00 – 11:15 Introduction to Big Pit and a 50 minute underground tour for all delegates.
11:15 – 11:30 Coffee break

11:30 - 14:00 Parallel activities

 11:30 – 13:00 Steering Group Meeting, part 1
(for OpenArch partners)
11:30 – 13:00 Surface tour of Big Pit with Peter Walker, Keeper, Big Pit and Ceri Thomson, Coal Curator (for others)
13:00 - 14:00Lunch for steering committee members in the conference roomLunch for all others in the Big Pit Canteen.
14:00 – 17:00Afternoon Session, Big Pit National Coal Museum and Blaenafon World Heritage Site

14:00 - 17:00 Parallel activities

 14:00 – 15:00     Steering Group Meeting, part 2
(for OpenArch partners)
14:00 – 17:00  “Heather and Heritage” walking tour of Blaenafon World Heritage Site (for others) led by Rebecca Hartley and Steve Rogers.
*Please bring sturdy footwear and waterproofs
17:00Depart for Llancaiach Fawr, near Nelson, Caerphilly
18:00Visit and tour of Llancaiach Fawr and evening meal on site
Llancaiach Fawr is a 16th-century manor house presented to the public through first person interpretation. It is also the site for the Urdd National Eisteddfod (25-30 May 2015), an annual Welsh-language youth festival of literature, music and performing arts

Friday 29 May 2015 - Departure Day



Craft Festival brochure
Delegates enjoying a presentation from Jack...
Study tour of Cardiff Bay's industrial...
Jasna Lesnjak on staff exchange from La...
Łukasz Szczepański from Foteviken Museum...
Team photo in front of the Iron Age...
Thomas Aune Olsen from Foteviken Museum...
The Steering Committee meeting held at Big...
Final conference visit to Llancaiach Fawr to...