Treasures Exhibition brings Indiana Jones, crystal skulls, mummies and gold to Cardiff

The crystal skull from the movie!
I admit it...I cannot lie...not ashamed about it whatsoever...I fell in love with ancient Egypt because of Indiana Jones!  I totally adored the films...oh EXCEPT  the Temple of Doom (does anyone know of anybody who actually liked the sequel?).  Raiders of the Lost Ark was (and still is) my favourite all time movie. I wanted to be Marion Ravenwood...feisty and beautiful but still a huge part of all the action and excitement and to top it all, she got to kiss Indiana Jones!  Indie's and Marion's adventures made archaeology exciting: the exotic settings, the artefacts, the travel and ...yes the notebook! I wanted a leather notebook with secret codes and maps so badly that even now I cannot pass a stationary shop without looking for the perfect journal in which to record details of my research - just like Indie! You can imagine my excitement therefore when I was invited this week to a preview of a new exhibition in Cardiff that featured not only Indie's jacket, hat and whip but also the crystal skull from the last movie.   I ventured to the National Museum in Cardiff with a happy heart to see its Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology exhibition.

As part of Wales' Year of Adventure 2016, the remit of Treasures is to examine how archaeology has shaped popular culture since the first early adventurers began exploring the ancient world.  An impressive selection of names are represented, which include the strongman turned purveyor of antiquities, Giovanni Belzoni; the 'father of Egyptian archaeology, William Flinders Petrie; the traveller and explorer Adela Breton and the excavator of the Greek site at Mycenae, Henrich Schliemann.

Mycenae mask
The curator of the event is Mark Redknap, Head of Collections and Research, who has brought together an incredible selection of objects in which to illustrate how exciting archaeology can be. Aside from the film props (on loan from Lucas Museum of Narrative Art), there is also an Egyptian mummy on loan from the Manchester Museum, a 19th century crystal skull on loan from  Museee du Quai Branly Paris, pre-Columbian gold, watercolours by Belzoni, and the "Inca's Ring" once belonging to the author Rider Haggard which inspired a scene in Haggard's book King Solomon's Mines.  Adventures in Archaeology does not forget Wales' important contribution either: visitors can see the Roman hoard of coins and rings found in Scully known as The Tregwynt Hoard, which has been brought together for the first time since their discovery in 1899.  They can also see silver from the wreck of the Ann Francis, which was lost on Margam beach in 1583.  There is even a skeleton from Viking-age burials found at Llanbedrgoch in Anglesey.  There are also plenty of examples of how archaeology has had an influence on modern culture, including books, jewellery, an original catalogue from Lady Meux's antiquity collection and magazines.  In fact there are so many beautiful objects and archival material in the exhibition that I can only give you a taste of what can be seen.  All are complimented by beautifully illustrated and easy to digest display boards. 

The Egyptian mummy
The Tregwynt Hoard
Music, interactive computers, revolving CT scan imaging, archive film footage and well thought out backdrops all combine to make the visit that bit more different than your usual exhibition. I felt like I was on a film set and the only disappointment was that the waterfall special effect in the foyer wasn't available to experience at the preview.  It will however be there when the exhibition is officially open!

There has been some discussion in the press (Wales Online and BBC News) regarding the the charge of £7 (concessions £5 and entry is free for those of 16 and under).  It is the first time that the National Museum of Cardiff has asked an admission price for an exhibition since 2003.  Unfortunately it is a sad reality that in today's cash strapped arts and culture arena, in order to deliver a high quality exhibition, museums are having to claw back the costs via visitor admission fees. With young children going free and the price for 2 adults coming in at £14, I personally think this is reasonable.  The rest of the museum is free and you can have a great day out in comparison for what you can pay for other options.    

Believe me, this exhibition is well worth the expenditure! Both children and adults will love it.  Hats off to the National Museum Cardiff for delivering such an innovative experience which illustrates that archaeology is for everyone.  Let's hope that it inspires more people, young and old, to explore.  I for one will  definitely be visiting again - the murder mystery in the galleries in March sounds just my cup of tea!

The exhibition runs until 30 October 2016 and is open 10am to 4pm (last admission) everyday except Bank Holidays.

Further details of how to book and for events linked to the exhibition can be found on the museum website here:

Hat, jacket and whip as used in the Indiana Jones' films!


  1. Indian Jones was one thing that got me hooked on Ancient Egypt as well.. That movie showed me the mysteries. Thanks for writing this-


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