Old Museum dawing


of the Museum and the "RI"


In 1835 a group of local people founded the Swansea Philosophical and Literary Society. Three years later, Queen Victoria granted it a Royal Charter and the name changed to The Royal Institution of South Wales.

The founders' purpose was:
'The Cultivation and Advancement of the various Branches of Natural History, as well as the Local History of the Town and Neighbourhood, the Extension and Encouragement of Literature and the Fine Arts, and the General Diffusion of Knowledge.'
In other words, to research and collect information, and share it with others.

They built Swansea Museum to display the objects they collected, with a library for research, a laboratory to experiment, and a lecture theatre for public lectures. While the museum collections and the library covered a wide range of subjects, the early research and lectures concentrated mainly on scientific subjects. This reflected the interests of the founder members, who were businessmen, industrialists and scientists, well known in their fields and active in the development of technological industries.

The RISW owned and managed Swansea Museum for over 150 years. For ten years from 1975, Swansea University helped to support the Museum. In 1991 the Museum and its collections were given to Swansea City Council.

The RISW continues as an independent organisation with charitable status. They are "The Friends of Swansea Museum"

© The Royal Institution of South Wales 2011