More Welsh art works, artefacts and items of significance to Welsh heritage should be put on display in Wales.
That’s the call from Welsh Conservatives at this year’s Eisteddfod, who have highlighted the need for long-term repatriation of selected examples of art and history.
It follows the party’s recent calls for remaining parts of the Investiture Regalia to be brought to Wales, along with appeals for a national war and peace museum; especially poignant in a week that not only marks the annual highlight of Welsh culture but the centenary of the beginning of The Great War.
Today’s announcement is inspired by items like the Mold Gold Cape, the Mantell Aur, which remains the largest piece of prehistoric gold found in the UK.
The cape made a rare appearance when it was exhibited in North Wales to coincide with last year's Eisteddfod, and Welsh Conservatives want to see it brought back to Wales on a long-term loan from the British Museum.
Dylan Thomas’ notebooks are currently on a short term loan from America - on display at the National Library in Aberystwyth and the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, to mark the centenary of the poet’s birth.
As well as looking at long-term repatriation of examples permanently housed outside Wales, Welsh Conservatives have also called for more to be done to display many of the pieces of valuable art that are already here but hidden from view.
Recent figures revealed tens of thousands of items of art, worth over £50million, are being kept in storage by local authorities. Welsh Conservatives have said that publicly owned art should be made available to the public.
Suzy Davies AM, Shadow Minister for Heritage, said:
“We are often in the extraordinary position of having to travel around the UK - and beyond - to learn about Welsh culture and heritage.
“There are many artefacts and pieces of artwork for which a home could be found in Wales, either in museums, libraries or other public buildings, where they can be fully appreciated.
"Much-needed work is already being done to make more high definition photos available online - but there is nothing like seeing the original work or artefact; ask anyone who was able to view the Act of Union at St Fagan's a couple of years ago.
“A key part of Wales’ appeal to tourists and visitors is its unique cultural contribution and we need to showcase this in a far more coherent way.
“Bringing Welsh art back to Wales would help broaden that offering.
“Welsh Labour Ministers should investigate how the repatriation and long-term loan of certain items of Welsh historical interest can take place.”
Mrs Davies added:
“Recent figures suggest that tens of millions of pounds’ worth of art is locked up in storage by local authorities. These works are effectively owned by the taxpayer.
“We are lucky enough to live in a country with such a rich and diverse cultural heritage.
“When so much is locked up in storage or held elsewhere, how can we possibly expect our own people, let alone tourists, to properly appreciate it?”