A new visitor experience and a student production will share the same venue and a common theme this month.
Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth is about to launch its Portalis exhibition, a visitor experience that reaches back in time to look at life between 11,000 and 6,000 years ago, whilst Curtain Call members are about to perform their stone age musical, Firebringer, at the Aberystwyth venue.
Portalis is a cross-border EU-funded project led by South East Technological University in Ireland (SETU). The Irish university is working with Ceredigion Museum and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Lampeter campus, to tell the story of Mesolithic life in Cardigan Bay.
The free exhibition opens this Friday, 12 May, and runs until Saturday, 24 June.
Prior to the launch, Aberystwyth University students from drama group Curtain Call will perform a new musical originally created and produced by StarKid Productions.
Described by the group as “a fantastic night out, Firebringer is a show full of head-bopping musical numbers, fabulous choreography and hilarious comedy!”
The show is on from tonight, Wednesday to Friday, 10 to 12 May. Doors open at 7pm.
With its stone age theme, Firebringer is the perfect precursor to the museum exhibition. Portalis, which the museum experience is one part of, explores the first connection between Ireland and Wales, dating back to the Mesolithic period about 10,000 years ago. The project investigates, through evidence based research, how those first settlers adapted to their surroundings in order to survive, and seeks to understand whether there are any parallels with how we can adapt to climate change now.
It was between 11,000 and 6,000 years ago, after the last ice age, that the coastline of Cardigan Bay became what we know today.
As the ice melted the sea level rose. Sand and pebble beaches became rocky shorelines. Salt water gradually encroached into low-lying land and river estuaries. Habitats changed, plant species altered and the seasonal migratory paths of animals and birds shifted.
Generations of people witnessed these changes and responded as humans do – they adjusted, they adapted and they took advantage of the new opportunities this changing world had to offer.
Joy Rooney, Portalis senior responsible officer and design lead, lecturer and researcher in design, SETU, said: “Portalis is a pilot project aimed at protecting our natural and cultural heritage, working with six coastal communities in Ireland and Wales.
“Working with Carrie Canham, curator, and her staff at Ceredigion Museum, I designed our first visitor experience in Wales through a truly collaborative cross-border action.
“Our archaeologists have carefully selected a unique range of Welsh artefacts, while also providing ongoing excavation work open to the public to join.
“Our two cross-border experiential and cultural tourism networks provide a framework for further sustainable development and help ensure, together with our permanent visitor experience opening in Ceredigion Museum later this year, that the pilot project delivers sustainable and tangible resources for our six coastal communities and their visitors.”
Carrie said: “The visitor experience is going to be an interactive opportunity for visitors to get a glimpse of what life was like in Cardigan Bay 10,000 years ago – there will be a virtual reality Mesolithic settlement to explore, a film and a sand pit children can excavate to find archaeological evidence of the past.”
The Portalis visitor experience is free to the public. Tickets for Firebringer are available on the museum website.