The National Museum Cardiff, part of the National Museum Wales “network”, has a rather nice set of exhibits in the areas of art, natural history and human history. We managed to stroll through just about all of the rooms, though we spent the most time in certain areas. Since admission is free, it’s a good deal no matter what you wish to see.
The highlight of the museum, to me, was seeing the “Red Lady of Paviland”, Unearthed in 1823 in the Gower Peninsula of Wales, this is a human skeleton from the Upper Paleolithic era (around 10,000 to 50,000 years ago) – and specifically estimated to be about 33,000 years old. These remains were found in a manner showing that a ceremonial burial was performed. Shells and ivory pieces had been placed around the body and a red ochre coated both the decorative pieces and the person. The Red Lady is both the oldest known formal burial in Western Europe and the oldest (modern) human remains uncovered in the UK.
Oh, and despite the name, the skeleton is actually male. Its discoverer, Rev. William Buckland, believed it was a female due to the decorative items present around the body. Rev. Buckland also thought the Earth was no more than several thousand years old and ascribed the Red Lady to the Roman era. For whatever reason, he determined that the red ochre coloring indicated the “lady” was a witch or a prostitute. Perhaps the good Reverend had a penchant for hookers dressed in red with shell jewelry? Fortunately more rigorous scientific analysis was later applied to the find and the correct gender was determined. However by that time the name had stuck and in any event, the departed individual is no longer around to file a complaint about having his sex misrepresented all those years.
Fine arts are well represented as well. The Renoir piece La Parisienne is perhaps the most advertised work of art associated with this venue, but it is far from the only item in their collection. Van Gogh, Cézanne, Rodin, and a host of Welsh artists may be
Public Spaces, Hotel and Food
Cardiff is a fairly compact city and easy to see on foot, with the occasional taxi supplementing as needed. Several indoor shopping arcades, a modern mall (St David’s), and other shops provide plenty of opportunities to open up your wallet. We never had a problem finding something to eat, whether a quick bite, longer dinner, or dessert. I thought the Alliance public sculpture, by French artist Jean-Bernard Metais, was pretty cool. The piece rises and falls in concert with the tides and glows after dark.
The Cardiff Marriott was our home base for our time in the Welsh capital city, using some of my Marriott Rewards points. This turned out to be a good choice. We walked to everything except for the Doctor Who Experience. The rooms were comfortable and clean, free wi-fi was available in the lobby, and we had a peaceful sleep each night. The first afternoon after checking in, we had the curtains open and were surprised by a little visitor outside on the window ledge. This seagull decided to make himself at home and in fact stuck around for about 10 minutes. Either he was an unrepentant “Peeping Tom” or expected us to provide him with a snack.