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Want to know which is the best museum in the UK? (Warning: it’s not in London)

Ellie Walker-Arnott

We’ve got the likes of the V&A, The British Museum and the Natural History Museum right on our doorsteps, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that London is home to the best museums the UK has to offer. But – surprise! – the cultural space you’re going to want to visit this year is actually an open-air historical museum in South Wales. 

St Fagans National Museum of History near Cardiff has been named Museum of the Year 2019 by the Art Fund. It beat the V&A’s new outpost in Dundee, Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum, Nottingham Contemporary and HMS Caroline in Belfast to bag the cultural top spot. 

The prize is designed to champion ‘unique experiences, breathtaking spaces and outstanding collections you’ll want to explore this year’. 

And, as much as we love our local exhibition spaces, we can see why St Fagans charmed the judges. It’s made up of more than 40 historical buildings from across Wales that have been rebuilt in 100 acres of lush green space. 

Photograh: Andreas Zerndl/

Highlights of the museum, which recently went through a huge redevelopment, include a perfectly restored Victorian school, a Grade I-listed Elizabethan manor house, Iron Age roundhouses, a 1920s grocery shop, a post-war prefab bungalow, a collection of thatched cottages and stone farmhouses, and an extremely fancy urinal.  

You can just wander around and have a nosey, ditch your phone and pretend it’s the olden days, imagine you’re Welsh royalty, learn about traditional skills from local craftsmen or feast on the tasty bread and cakes that are baked daily at Derwen Bake House. There’s loads of pretty rural gardens and woodland to explore, too. Sounds pretty bendigedig! (brilliant!) to us. 

St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff, CF5 6XB. Free. Find out more here

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