Adventure International

Dylan Thomas Centre: Swansea, Wales

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas died too soon, but his poems will live forever in his books and museum.

I love visiting museums dedicated to writers’ lives, so I decided to visit the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, Wales.

The interactive museum displays a permanent collection of exhibits on the poet’s life and work. (I also wrote about the James Joyce Centre in Dublin, Ireland.)

Famous Dylan Thomas Poems

The most famous Dylan poem is “Do not go gentle into that good night” which he wrote after his father died. 

“Do not go gentle into that good night but rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Dylan Thomas

He also wrote “Fern Hill,” “And Death Shall Have No Dominion,” and “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” An accomplished actor, he also created “Under Milk Wood,” a play set in the fictional Welsh town of Llareggub.

Dylan Thomas’ Life

Dedicate two hours to visiting this museum to immerse yourself in Dylan’s life. As I moved from exhibit to exhibit in the large space, I felt like I was watching a silent movie.

To learn about his childhood, start at the beginning of his life. He was a precocious boy who often got in trouble with his teachers. His father taught English literature at the local grammar school.

If there is any doubt about whether you should read aloud to children, look to Dylan’s childhood. His father would recite William Shakespeare to the family . . .

“ . . . fortifying Thomas’s love for the rhythmic ballads of Gerard Manley Hopkins, W. B. Yeats, and Edgar Allan Poe.”

Poets.org

Follow the 39 years of Dylan’s life as you move from exhibit to exhibit. Start in 1914 when his mother gave birth to baby Dylan in Swansea, Wales. End in 1953 when Dylan died at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. You can even read the full obituary published in the New York Times.

Dylan Thomas Center Layout

I read my way through this museum. You must stop at each handwritten note, newspaper clipping, photograph, and browse. Don’t rush. Live the big moments, such as when Dylan published his first poem at age 20.

“The Dylan Thomas Centre’s permanent exhibition, ‘Love the Words’, tells the story of the life, work and cultural context of one of the twentieth century’s most important writers.”

Dylan Thomas Centre

The wall exhibits are artfully arranged like a magazine layout, so you can see a combination of text and photographs. It is visually stimulating. I felt like I was reading the story of his life.

You start with his childhood in Swansea and read poetry he wrote as a teenager. Next the exhibit spotlights his war work and writing about World War II. There are multiple exhibits on his connections with the Surrealists as well as writers, artists, and actors he met during his tours in the United States.

Interactive Exhibits

Comfy green chairs beckoned me. I felt like Dylan wanted me to sit down and read his poems. But I also heard Dylan’s voice boom in the Centre. You can push a button on a device to listen to him read his poetry.

“Original manuscripts and audio recordings form a key part of this accessible, hands-on exhibition.”

Walk all four walls of the rectangular Centre. Stop in cozy modules to sit and ponder. Examine actual clothes that he wore, like his wool blazer. Prepare yourself to see his life expire like the wick of a candle that burns too quickly. 

The Dylan Thomas Centre features a Children’s Trail, so families and schools are welcome to visit. Children can play a range of exciting interactives and games, making it engaging and fun for pupils of all ages and learning needs.

Legacy & Influence Exhibit

I really appreciated the exhibit on his “Legacy and Influence.” His writings impacted countless artists, including the Beat poets, Bob Dylan, Peter Blake, and Richard Burton.

The exhibit notes that “his diverse, resonant writing inspires people around the world and has been translated into many languages.

More widely interpreted and performed than ever, it is a vibrant and constantly evolving gift.”

Dylan Thomas Centre

Key Information

The Dylan Thomas Centre is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. It is located at 6 Somerset Place, Swansea, U.K.

Admission is free. The exhibition spaces and Learning Space are all housed at ground level and fully wheelchair accessible.

You can purchase books in the museum lobby.

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  • Hannah
    June 15, 2024 at 10:08 am

    Ooh this looks like such a fascinating museum! I studied literature at university so I love visiting museums dedicated to authors and poets! I’ll have to check this out when I am next in the area! If you haven’t visited previously, the John Clare Cottage museum near Peterborough is another one worth checking out if you get the chance! Thanks for the great guide!

    • Terri
      June 15, 2024 at 2:30 pm

      I was an English (literature) major too. I am obsessed with visiting museums about writers. I hope to visit the Bronte sisters’ museum one day! Thanks for recommendation on another museum to visit in the UK.

  • Laureen Lund
    June 15, 2024 at 11:12 am

    I have heard of Thomas but really did not know much about him, this was a great post. We are hoping to get back to the UK soon…maybe Wales too!

    • Terri
      June 15, 2024 at 2:29 pm

      Wales is amazing! I wish I had more than two days to visit. I highly recommend this museum.

  • Linda (LD Holland)
    June 15, 2024 at 12:23 pm

    Visiting the museum in Wales dedicated to Dylan Thomas would be a good way to learn more about this poet and his inspirations. People know some of the lines from his poems but might not actually know who wrote them. Interesting to check out the interactive exhibit and press a button to hear him read his poems with the emotion and intonation he wanted.

    • Terri
      June 15, 2024 at 2:28 pm

      My thoughts exactly. This museum really helps you learn about the man as well as his poems. It is so sad that he died prematurely.

  • anukrati
    June 15, 2024 at 2:04 pm

    I love this kind of museum. I am sure the experience would have been amazing. Do they offer audio guided tour as well?

    • Terri
      June 15, 2024 at 2:27 pm

      I did not see an audio tour but I might have missed it. It would be a great addition. I found it distracting to hear his audio recordings played aloud for everyone to hear. Dylan’s narration of his poems are lovely!

  • Kait
    June 15, 2024 at 2:15 pm

    What an interesting experience, the Legacy & Influence Exhibit would prob be of most interest to me 😀

    • Terri
      June 15, 2024 at 2:25 pm

      I was not surprised at all that his poems influenced so many famous musicians.

  • Mayi
    June 15, 2024 at 3:29 pm

    I had never heard of Dylan Thomas before reading this. It was nice to learn a little about the poet through your article. I’m sure this is a place I would want to visit when in Swansea.

    • Terri
      June 15, 2024 at 5:05 pm

      He is such a beautiful poet. I may need to go back and add more of his poems to my article.

  • Annie
    June 15, 2024 at 3:29 pm

    Years ago I went to the Dylan Thomas Boathouse in Laugharne – it was at the end of a long windy walk on the beach. Then to his burial place in Laugharne. Haven’t visited the Swansea museum yet, but if I’m ever in the area on a wet day . . . i now know where to go!

    • Terri
      June 15, 2024 at 5:05 pm

      I am very jealous. I would love to visit both thise sites. I loved this museum. I learned di msny facts about him.

  • Maggie
    June 15, 2024 at 6:04 pm

    I love learning about people who you don’t think you know anything about but then it turns out you do! Like I’ve never heard Dylan Thomas’ name but I certainly know his most famous poem. And how interesting the number of more famous people he influenced!

    • Terri
      June 15, 2024 at 7:27 pm

      I had no idea how many people didn’t know the poet Dylan Thomas but knew his most famous poem. I am so glad that I wrote about him. Thank you!

  • Patricia (Tish) Mikan
    June 15, 2024 at 10:18 pm

    What an Interesting Museum
    Dylan was such an inspiration to so many people
    Wish I could have gone to visit

    • Terri
      June 16, 2024 at 5:38 am

      His poems are beautiful!

  • Anja
    June 16, 2024 at 6:32 am

    Very intrigued by Dylan Thomas (because of his colourful life, probably) but admittedly not some work I am very familiar with. This is a museum I would definitely want to visit. Bookmarked for the next Wales trip, thank you for sharing!

    • Terri
      June 17, 2024 at 5:08 pm

      I hope yon can visit!