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Opening our doors

04 September 2012

Opening our doors web

Cardiff University will once again open its doors as part of an annual event designed to celebrate Wales’ architectural heritage.

Visitors will get a peek at the University’s state-of-the-art brain scanning technologies, as well as a one day pop-up museum exploring the University’s history and research through rare and fascinating exhibits, objects and images.

Visitors will also be treated to a tour of the University’s impressive Grade II listed Main Building, formally opened in October 1909, and a thriving focal point for the University’s campus and the Capital City.

The Open Doors initiative is organised by the Civic Trust for Wales and gives members of the public free access to visit some of the country’s most beautiful buildings and places of historic and architectural interest.

This year there are over five hundred events at more than three hundred sites across Wales. The programme is Wales's contribution to European Heritage Days.

"Open Doors is all about discovering the hidden treasures on your doorstep," according to James Vilares, Cardiff University’s Community Engagement Officer.

"The programme of activity at the University's Main and Glamorgan Buildings offers a unique insight into the history of learning in the city. There will be something for everyone here, with building tours, exhibitions of rare books, hands-on activities and the first Pop-Up Museum of University objects," he added.

As part of the Civic Trust Open Doors initiative, the event will be held on Saturday 22nd September giving Cardiff residents and visitors to the city the chance to learn about the intriguing history of the University.

Visitors to CUBRIC (Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre) will be able to view the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanner, whilst learning about how it can be used to investigate the structure and function of the human brain including brain connectivity, blood flow, cellular structure, and brain chemistry. 

The Pop-Up Museum will give a fascinating insight into the history of Cardiff's oldest Higher Education Institution through a newly curated exhibition. The showcase unearths for the first time artefacts and objects usually hidden deep inside the laboratories and libraries of the University. 

Delving as far back as the palaeolithic period, the exhibition covers more than 12,000 years of human history and contains over 30 unique objects, each of which is a window into the extraordinary breadth of research undertaken at Cardiff University.

Objects include a solar filter from the School of Physics and Astronomy that is being used by NASA in the construction of the Alma telescope in Chile. Once finished, the telescope will consist of 66 radio antennas that will probe the sky in a bid to unlock secrets of the Universe's formation. Other rare and fascinating objects from across the University include a 1920s typewriter used to write the Telegraph’s gossip column, as well as ‘Newtown’, the city planning board game from the 1970s which allows you to ‘create and build tomorrow’s city’.

As part of the day, visitors can also see first-hand some of University’s newly acquired Rare Books collection, which includes 175 incunabula (the earliest printed books from before 1500), 'historical 17th and 18th century atlases and a rare set of early Shakespeare works.

Main Building, located on Park Place, will be open to members of the public from 11am until 3pm on 22nd September. During the day, three tours will be given by Jim Cowan, a professional guide from Cardiff History and Hauntings. Two will focus on the interior of the University's Main Building and Glamorgan Building, and one will cover the exterior of the buildings in Cardiff's impressive Civic Centre. 

The Civic Centre Tour will begin at 11am, and the tours of Cardiff University Main Building and the Glamorgan Building will start at 1pm and 2.30pm. The tours will all last approximately an hour.

Tours of the Rare Books collection will run at 12pm-1pm (English language) and 1pm-2pm (Welsh language). Tours of CUBRIC begin at 11am and last approximately 45 minutes.

All tours are free and places must be booked in advance by contacting or 02920 876935. More information is available at

Related links:

Civic Trust for Wales