The Welsh capital is full of places to indulge your culture cravings. Here is our list of the best galleries and museums to visit when you’re here.
National Museum Cardiff
This museum and art gallery is Cardiff’s cultural heavy weight, housed in a large and imposing building in the centre of the city. There’s so much to see that you could easily spend a whole day here. To start with, there’s a large collection of prestigious art, Welsh and otherwise, as well as touring and temporary exhibitions.
Then there’s the impressive geology and natural history collections, which include a treasure trove of crystals specimens, the humongous skeleton of a humpback whale which washed up on the beach at nearby Barry Island and a “journey through space and time” of Welsh history, starting at the big bang and ending at the last ice age.
For children there’s the Clore Discovery Centre, with interactive activities and the chance to see and handle some of the museum’s special specimens and archives normally kept under lock and key.
Cathays Park, Cardiff +44 0300 111 2333
St Fagans National Museum of History
This free museum, set across 100-acres of parkland is a must for anyone visiting Cardiff. It’s a little bit out of the city and you’ll need to take a bus there if you have no means of transport, but the trip will be worth it.
Being an open-air museum, you get to experience traditional Welsh countryside life here, with a farm, fields of sheep and a village with old fashioned shops housed in over forty original buildings from different periods in Welsh history. In them, you can buy Welsh delicacies, baked goods and bags of sweets.
There’s St Fagan’s Castle, a Grade 1 listed 16th-century manor house with its heavenly gardens of fish ponds, groves and fountains, you can have the chance to try and learn about traditional Welsh crafts such as pottery and blacksmithing and also the woodland full of wildlife.
St Fagans, Cardiff +44 0300 111 2333
Martin Tinney Gallery
There are three light, airy floors in this 19th century townhouse to perfectly showcase the Welsh and Wales-based artists featured. It boasts ‘the most important living Welsh artists, including Harry Holland, Sally Moore, Shani Rhys James and Kevin Sinnott’, as well as 20th century Welsh artists Gwen John, Augustus John, Ceri Richards, David Jones, Sir Cedric Morris and more. There are monthly solo exhibitions in the main gallery and a constantly-changing exhibition of paintings, prints and sculpture on the other two gallery floors.
One of my highlights last week was being introduced to the esteemed Clive Hicks-Jenkins at the private view of his new exhibition 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' on at the Martin Tinney Gallery. Rarely have I met such talent combined with such humility. A true joy. The exhibition is on until October 1st, I highly recommend visiting with plenty of time to examine the incredible detail and texture within the artwork. #clivehicksjenkins #martintinneygallery #sirgawainandthegreenknight #welshart
The Kooywood Art Gallery
This is a leading gallery specialising in Welsh art. Expect a choice selection of established and emerging Welsh artists. The gallery mixes regular solo and group exhibitions with a revolving display of new paintings, sculptures, ceramics and limited editions. Find it near the National Museum and Galleries of Wales.
g39 is an artist-run gallery in a warehouse, focused on sharing art rather than selling it. You’ll find major exhibitions, experimental projects and intimate events by contemporary artists from Wales and elsewhere, both established and emerging.
Each year, organisers put on UNIT(e), turning g39 ‘into a space for production, research, critical discussions, film screenings, socials, lectures, and more’. The gallery is full with artists busy at work and once a week it opens to the public to observe. At the end of the season there’s an open studio event. This year UNIT(e) runs from 21 April until 9 September.
The Norwegian Church Arts Centre
The Norwegian Church is an arts centre with a lively cafe and art gallery. One of the biggest pulls is the setting in Cardiff Bay, with its expansive views over the water.
As well as being where the famous children’s author Roald Dahl was baptised, the church is also an important historical landmark from the industrial revolution, where it provided a place for Norwegian seafarers to meet.
Back then Cardiff Docks was a flourishing, affluent port as the world’s greatest exporter of coal. Today Cardiff Bay is thriving once again, thanks to a regeneration project and a mix of restaurants, bars and cultural attractions drawing in the crowds.
Harbour Dr, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff +44 029 2087 7959.