The National Museum of Art

Huw Jones

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This summer’s opening of the National Museum Cardiff’s new galleries of contemporary art marks the final phase in a £6.5m refurbishment programme to create a so-called ‘National Museum of Art’. The new galleries feature several Welsh-related images, including a special section of art in post-war Wales, and can be seen as an attempt on the part of the curatorial staff to respond to long-running criticisms not only about the lack of Welsh art on show, but also about the way the collection as a whole in displayed. Peter Lord, for example, has made a particularly strong case in favour of displaying the collection in the context of Welsh history rather than the evolution of Western art, an approach which he regards as damaging to Wales’s self-image. This article critically examines the new National Museum of Art within the context of these debates. It argues that while some of the new galleries take on board Lord’s ‘revisionist’ approach to Welsh visual culture, others continue to hold on to the old ‘high art’ tradition, which has been the subject of so much criticism. This compromise highlights the different constraints and expectations placed on the museum.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPlanet: The Welsh Internationalist
Issue number204
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2011


  • National Museum of Wales
  • Welsh visual culture
  • Peter Lord


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