Specialist Museums and Collections
From Anthopology to Zoology, Cambridge's specialist collections are spectacular. They make possible deep scholarly exploration and discovery. They inform and fire the imaginations of hundreds of thousands of people each year by illuminating the worlds – physical, biological, historical – beyond the glass cases, and raising profound questions about the challenges that face our world today. Here are some of the ways in which you can ensure that these places of wonder can continue to teach, enlighten and inspire their visitors for generations to come.
[home to] the discoveries of some of the most remarkable explorers and scholars of their time.
With over 900,000 objects of outstanding historical and artistic value including photography, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is a base for research and a provider of education in its widest sense. Through events that range from storytelling, demonstrations and talks to writing a ‘curse tablet’ and making rock art, the Museum is committed to encouraging creative use of its collections to illuminate their significance to life today. Support is required for acquisitions to maintain the vitality of its collections, and for its energetic research and outreach programmes.
The Museum of Classical Archaeology houses one of the world's few surviving collections of plaster casts of Greek and Roman statues. As well as being integral to University teaching and research, the Museum reaches a wide public audience through a range of outreach activities as varied as their target audiences are diverse. This highly successful programme is conducted by one part-time Education Officer, although fuelled by abundant resource in the Faculty of Classics: the enthusiasm and expertise of staff and students. Philanthropic support for this education programme will enable Cambridge to continue to harness the timeless fascination of the heroes and heroines, monsters and messengers of Greek and Roman mythology, and nurture new generations of explorers of the classical world.
The Museum of Zoology has extraordinarily rich and important holdings covering the diversity of animal life on Earth. Amongst the birds are some of Charles Darwin’s Galapagos finches collected during his Beagle Voyage, and exceptional fossil dodo bones from Mauritius. In recent times important new collections have been added to the Museum, such as early tetrapod fossils from Scotland that are of central importance for understanding the origin of land vertebrates. Part of a thriving research community within the Department of Zoology, the Museum is a key resource for informing understanding of the distribution and status of species today, as well as the history of life on Earth. Funding is required to endow its Directorship and support other key staff involved in conserving this major public resource, which has been awarded Designated Status in recognition of the international significance of its collections.
The Scott Polar Research Institute is home to unrivalled expertise in the study of the Arctic and Antarctic. Its scholars carry out pioneering research on contemporary environmental issues, and work with governments and NGOs to formulate policy. It houses the world’s foremost polar library and the UK’s only dedicated polar museum. These invaluable collections encompass unique written records, artefacts, paintings, drawings, photographs and film footage, and an appeal in aid of the refurbishment of the Museum – the national memorial to Captain Scott and his companions – is currently underway. Endowment of the posts of Librarian, Archivist and Curator will underpin their pivotal roles in informing the work of the Institute’s scholars, and educating a worldwide audience about global environmental issues of the utmost importance.
With over 1.1 million specimens, some collected in the Galapagos by Darwin himself, the University Herbarium is a testament to our evolutionary past, and an invaluable resource in informing the emerging molecular science of the future. Including the nation’s most comprehensive and definitive collection of British plants, it is an indispensable resource for scholars and the wider public. Funding is now required for curatorial posts at the Herbarium in its purpose-built space within the exciting new Sainsbury Laboratory in the Botanic Garden, where it will be both digitally catalogued and carefully preserved under controlled conditions for use by future generations.
The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences reveals more than 4,000 million years of the history of the Earth and the life it has supported. Its collections include more than 1.5 million fossil, rock and mineral specimens, including those collected by Charles Darwin during his voyage aboard the Beagle. Funding is sought for an acquisition fund that would enable spectacular specimens to be added to the Museum’s collection, lighting up the Sedgwick and attracting a new generation of visitors.
A fabulous chocolate box cornucopia of a collection... the Whipple Museum is crammed with fascinating instruments, bizarre models, and wonderful ideas.
Varsity magazine, 2008
The renowned Whipple Museum provides extraordinary insights into how, historically, we have devised instruments, models and tools to reveal, illuminate, measure and calculate – to understand – ourselves and our world. Its collections date from the Middle Ages to the present, and include objects of the utmost importance to research and teaching, as well as of great beauty. Funding is required to enhance access to and use of the collections through refurbishing facilities and supporting key posts.
The museums and collections of Cambridge have inspired some of the greatest minds in history. As places of wonder, discovery and contemplation, they challenge our understanding of the past and present and are a living embodiment of the rigours of research and study. They offer stimulus and solace, education and recreation to scholars, schoolchildren and visitors from Cambridge and across the globe.
Professor Dame Alison Richard, Vice-Chancellor Emerita
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