The Treasures exhibition, which includes some of Wales’ most unique and historic items at Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside, Haverfordwest, will be officially launched on Thursday night, 6 June, 2019. Visitors to this flagship facility, on the town’s riverside, can get a glimpse of many Treasures from the National Library of Wales’ collections.
The exhibition features arguably the most important and influential book in the history of the Welsh language, William Morgan’s Bible of 1588, the first complete translation of the text into Welsh. Another national treasure on display is the original score and words of ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’, the Welsh National Anthem, composed in 1856 by father and son Evan and James James.
Among the visual material is a piece by contemporary artist Claudia Williams, in addition to iconic images depicting Welsh culture by legendary figures from the field of photography: John Thomas, Geoff Charles and Philip Jones Griffiths. Visitors to Treasures will also get a glimpse of an original Turner painting, Dolbadarn Castle, which provides insight into how this notable landscape artist was inspired by his many visits to Wales during the 1790s.
Treasures gives the public a rare opportunity to delve deeper into the minds of some of Wales’ greatest writers and poets, with archival material on display including a map drawing of the fictional village Llareggub, the setting to the play Under Milk Wood, in the hand of Dylan Thomas himself. An original copy of Hedd Wyn’s winning ode ‘Yr Arwr’, at what became known as the ‘Eisteddfod of the Black Chair’ is also among The National Library’s Treasures at Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside.
In addition, four icons will be displayed one-by-one during the course of the exhibition, including three significant manuscripts: ‘The Black Book of Carmarthen’, the earliest Welsh language manuscript, ‘The Laws of Hywel Dda’, an illuminated Latin version of native Welsh law, and ‘The Book of Taliesin’, which includes the oldest Welsh verse. There are around 40,000 manuscripts in The National Library of Wales, and together they form the most comprehensive collection of Welsh manuscripts in the world. The Peniarth collection, which includes the three manuscripts to be shown at Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside, is the most important of the Library’s manuscript collections. This internationally acclaimed collection is included on the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register.
The fourth icon to be displayed is Yny Lhyvyr Hwnn. It forms a part of The National Library’s exquisite rare books collection and is the first book ever to be printed in Welsh. Yny Lhyvyr Hwnn was written by John Price and printed in London in 1546. Only one copy of the volume has survived.
The gallery at Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside is the result of an exciting partnership between Pembrokeshire County Council and The National Library of Wales, which enables special exhibitions such as Treasures to come to Pembrokeshire.
Pedr ap Llwyd, Chief Executive and Librarian at The National Library of Wales said:
“Extending and improving access to our national collections is an important priority. Through Treasures, visitors from Pembrokeshire and beyond will be able to view an impressive variety of priceless, iconic and attractive items that have shaped the story of Wales. Our collections belong to the nation, and we are thrilled to be able to present this selection of Treasures so that the public can appreciate the wealth of our heritage and history.”
Paul Miller, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture said:
“The gallery at Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside is a venue of national significance, and we’re delighted that The National Library of Wales are bringing such an iconic collection to the county in Treasures.
“Following the success of our inaugural exhibition Kyffin Williams: Land and Sea, which was viewed by more than 11,000 visitors, we’re confident that Treasures will prove an even bigger draw during the peak summer months.”
Mike Cavanagh, Head of Cultural, Leisure, Tourism and Registration Services, added:
“Treasures will add to an already diverse offer at Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside. The eclectic offer, which includes a library, gallery, visitor information and coffee shop, caters for the needs of our local library users, whilst being an attractive destination for visitors to Pembrokeshire.
“We’re sure that Treasures will be a ‘must-see’ for both residents and non-residents alike, as we aim to welcome 200,000 visitors to Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside in our opening year.”
The National Library of Wales will also deliver a programme of exciting events and education activities to accompany this exhibition. Showing alongside Treasures will be The Story of Pembrokeshire, a permanent exhibition at Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside, focusing on the history, culture, arts and legends of Pembrokeshire. Both exhibitions will run until Saturday 12th October, as part of the ongoing partnership between Pembrokeshire County Council and The National Library of Wales at Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside.
Funding to build the facility came from a range of sources including Pembrokeshire County Council, Welsh Government, the Wolfson Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority. Haverfordwest Town Council have given a five-year funding package to ensure the library is able to open throughout the year on Saturday afternoons, the previous library having been open on Saturday mornings only.