About Welsh Regional Historical Museum
The Welsh Regional Historical Museum in the town of Y Gaiman, Patagonia, tells the story of the Welsh settlement of this region in the 19th century.
History of the Welsh Regional Historical Museum
Y Gaiman itself is a small town in the valley of Chubut which was colonised by Welsh settlers – even today Welsh and Spanish are the two local languages. The town was founded in 1874 by David Roberts, a Welsh emigrant. The first Welsh settlers arrived in 1865 – many moved in an attempt to save their language and culture from eradication.
Welsh was forcefully discouraged during the Peron years and after, but is now making a resurgence. The town forms a key part of the Welsh settlement of Patagonia, also known as Y Wladfa Gymreig.
The Welsh Regional Historical Museum can be found in the former station house and contains many lovingly maintained relics of the settlement period including “Y ty Cyntaf” or “The First House”. It tells the story of these first settlers and explores the history of the Welsh community in the region. The museum was founded in 1960, and also houses wider information in its collection about the economy and politics of the region.
Other sites to be found in Gaiman include the school, which proudly displays a desk presented by Lloyd George on an official visit, while the graveyard is a wonderful source of stories and histories.
Groups from the nearby town of Trelew, Gaiman and the Welsh settlements in the Andes are often to be met at the National Eisteddfod in Wales, and Trelew stages the huge annual Eisteddfod festival where Welsh traditional tunes are sometimes sung to South American rhythms, which is a great experience if you witness it.
Welsh Regional Historical Museum today
The museum is housed in the former station house, and is comprised of about 4 rooms. Most of the signage is in Spanish and Welsh, with some additional text in English: there’s plenty to read and look out for the museum’s curator/volunteer, Fabio, who is a fountain of knowledge on Y Gaiman and the Welsh community in Patagonia.
The museum is open every afternoon – check precise timings before you visit.
Getting to the Welsh Regional Historical Museum
The town of Gaiman is about 20km east of Trelew, on Ruta 25. The museum is in the centre of town. Many travellers choose to hire cars in Patagonia given how vast the region is and the infrequency of bus services, but buses do run to Gaiman from Trelew – check schedules before you travel or you might be faced with an unexpectedly long wait!