The former “Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery” has moved across the road to be situated at the Bishop’s Palace in between Pontio and the Roman Cathedral. In the current fashion for splicing two names together, the name of the museum, “Storiel”, is made up of two Welsh words,“oriel” (welsh for art gallery) and “stori” (welsh for stories and denoting history and heritage).
In order to be accessible by the greatest number of people the museum’s challenge was to stay free of charge but generate enough income to stay open. Changing buildings was essential to achieving this as it allowed the creation of a café and a bigger shop. More room also means space for museum and art galleries as well as community workshops and meeting rooms.
Opened on Saturday 30th January, Storiel aims to continue giving North Wales’ arts and heritage their deserved space. Current exhibitions are works from Iwan Gwynn Parry and Vivienne Rickman-Poole, both Gwynedd artists. Permanent exhibitions include Welsh antiquities and historical objects from 400,000 BC to the 17th century relevant to the county. It is also your chance to see the crown of the last King of Bardsey Island.
Fiona Owens, the museum manager,says:
“We work with local communities across the county, students and regional organisations. The aim of the project is not just to move to more appropriate premises but to bring the university’s exhibitions to the public eye. This includes increasing access to the Brambell Natural History Museum opposite Asda, the geology and damaged wood collections, the Crossley-Holland collection, and the fine art and ceramics collections as well via guided tours. We want to convey the message that STORIEL is for everybody and that we have something for everybody to see”.
The local community is the museum’s main focus, and the staff are asking locals what stories they feel are most important to their area. Family workshops have been organised and satellites for the museum will be created in the towns and villages across Gwynedd. Personal artefacts, stories as well as museum collection pieces will be displayed in an opportunity for locals to share their history.
The £2.6m project was partly financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund Wales, Gwynedd Council and Bangor University as well as other charitable organisations. This partnership with the university spans back to the nineteenth century when the museum was established.
Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Wales, Richard Bellamy says:
“Gwynedd is an area rich in both heritage and culture. This ambitious project is not simply about preserving collections– it’s also about making them meaningful and accessible for people today.”
For those who would like to get involved, there are volunteer opportunities. These range from supporting visitors to the museum, guiding bilingual tours, cataloguing the National History Collection and transcribing bilingual History projects, etc. For those who would simply like to have a look, Storiel is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday, from 11am to 5pm. More information is available at www.volunteering-wales.net or from Fiona Owens on 01248 353 368.