Ten Welsh museums and galleries

Published 27 October 2014

Happy 100th birthday Dylan Thomas! To celebrate we take a look at what Cymru has to offer.

1. Swansea Museum and Dylan Thomas Centre

Free to all

Swansea was the birthplace of Dylan Thomas and he remained in the city until his early 30s. In celebration of the poet's centenary year, the museum worked with author Jeff Towns to recreate Dylan's Swansea, exploring how its pubs, people and places affected his work. Meanwhile Thomas's early writings are the focus of a display at the eponymous centre, including poem manuscripts, a list of rhyming words and the facsimile of Fern Hill, which has a crossword he made up drawn on the back.

2. Tredegar House, Newport

Free entry with National Art Pass

Sitting in 90 acres of parkland, Tredegar House is one of the finest Restoration period buildings in Wales. It was once the home of the wealthy and powerful Morgan Family, who later became Lords Tredegar. Evan Morgan in particular was known for his eccentric exploits. As well as hosting scandalous parties, he collected a menagerie of animals which included Blue Boy the parrot, Alice the bear and Somerset the boxing kangaroo.

3. Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno ​

Free to all

The quaint seaside town of Llandudno is the rather surprising setting for Wales' leading gallery of contemporary art. Envisioned by architect Dominic Williams to merge the best of old and new, its 1901 terracotta facade is set off by a golden spire, added in 2010. Mostyn's six galleries showcase both the most important work being produced nationally and that of emerging international artists.

4. Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon ​

Free to all

Quite literally a big pit, this unusual 'museum' is found 90 metres underground, allowing visitors to experience the dark and dreary conditions that the coal workers faced. If you're lucky, you might get one of the ex-miners as your tour guide. Above ground there are interactive exhibits and the old colliery buildings to explore.

5. Cardiff Castle

Free entry with National Art Pass

Archaeological surveys suggest that this site was first used by Roman legions as early as AD54, and since then it has enjoyed periods as a Norman stronghold and a medieval fortress. In the 19th century Lord Bute - Britain's richest man in 1868 - commissioned architect William Burges to transform the castle into a Neo-Gothic palace. Today it is one of Wales' greatest heritage sites, with its original Norman keep, wartime shelters and lavishly decorated apartments paying tribute to its rich and diverse history.

6. National Museum Cardiff

Free to all

Poussin, Manet, Cezanne, Picasso and Van Gogh are just some of the great artists that feature in the national museum's important collection. Highlights include three of Monet's Waterlilies and a bronze cast of Rodin's The Kiss. Galleries devoted to the development of Welsh art feature paintings by Richard Wilson, Thomas Jones and Augustus and Gwen John, while Dylan Thomas's portrait hangs in the display of leading national figures.

7. Narbeth Museum

50% off entry with National Art Pass

Museum of the Year finalist 2013, Narbeth Museum was once an old wine and spirts store, transformed by the tireless efforts of community volunteers. Its locally-focused collection includes arteafcts exploring the rural unrest in the Rebecca Riots and an important collection of Welsh folk tales written down in the 14th-century which contains the first mention of Narberth.

8. National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon

Free to all

The farthest outpost of the mighty Roman Empire, Caerleon (Isca) was first built in AD 75 as a key military base. Today, the inside of the fortress holds a museum devoted to exploring ancient life in the area, as well as the ruins of the most complete amphitheatre in the UK and the only remains of a Roman legionary barracks anywhere in Europe.

9. St Fagans: National History Museum, Cardiff

Free to all

Over 40 original buildings from different historical periods have been re-erected at this open-air museum including farmhouses, a school and a grand medieval church. Traditional craftsmen including the clogmaker and blacksmith are on hand to demonstrate their traditional skills. Help the museum raise the funds it needs for an Iron Age farmstead, through our Art Happens project.

10. Chirk Castle

Free with National Art Pass

The last Edward I Welsh fortress, Chirk Castle once commanded views over nine different counties. When sold to Sir Thomas Myddelton in 1595, it was transformed into a family home – although retaining its mediaeval dungeon and garderobes. Sir Thomas's descendents still live in the castle, which is decorated with paintings from the studio of Frans Francken the younger both inside and out.

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