The University of Cambridge's museums and collections are for everyone.
Together, the eight University of Cambridge Museums and Botanic Garden represent the UK’s highest concentration of internationally important collections outside London. With more than five million works of art, artefacts, and specimens, the collections have supported nearly 300 years of investigation into the world around us.
Today, they bring together people from across the world to explore the big questions: from the earliest forms of life to the future of our planet. We work to deepen understanding of our world, inspire new thinking, and address local and global challenges.
What we do
A lot happens behind the scenes. Like most museums and collections, our work centres on three areas:
- We care for the collections and seek to understand them better
- We share them with you and with the wider world online, and through exhibitions, events and activities
- We use them to inspire and make a difference to our communities.
As University museums, we also have a distinctive mission to:
- Research the collections to help us answer big questions and respond to global challenges such as climate change
- Teach the next generation and work to widen access to the opportunities that higher education and cultural engagement can offer.
We work closely with the University’s other collections, as well as local and national partners. We are proud to be members of the national University Museums Group and Cambridge Arts and Cultural Leaders.
About the collections
The history of the University of Cambridge Museums stretches back to 1728, and the founding of what would become the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences.
Our collections can be read as a history book, documenting Cambridge's role in the development of Western knowledge. Alongside our objects, many of the museums hold field notes, books and other documents which reveal how Cambridge scholars set out to understand the world around them. The most famous of these might be Charles Darwin, and the Museum of Zoology holds some of the specimens collected on his voyage with HMS Beagle.
Other museums represent different ways of seeing the world, through the eyes of artists or craftspeople, and have their origins in private collections. Richard, Viscount Fitzwilliam's gift of art, antiquities and manuscripts to the University in 1816 sits at the heart of the Fitzwilliam Museum. Kettle's Yard, the home in the mid-20th century of Jim and Helen Ede, displays Jim's remarkable collection of modern art in the setting of their house.
Collections for everyone
We are committed to ensuring that all our work, and the way we do it, is as inclusive as possible. From our approach to researching the collections and sharing what we find to collaborating with communities and the development of our workforce, we are committed to positive institutional change. You can find out more about our inclusivity work and our approach to the return of objects on this website.
Find out more
Read Collections in Action for an overview of our most recent work, and receive updates from across the consortium on our Blog.
Since 2012, we’ve undertaken projects of all shapes and sizes, in collaboration with a huge variety of organisations. Find out more on our past projects page and in our 2021-2022 Year in Numbers.
Enjoy boundary pushing jazz in the atmospheric Whale Café.
A different Polar story each session with renowned storyteller Marion Leeper.
Do you want to learn how to draw dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals?
A zoology discovery course designed especially for individuals living at home with a dementia diagnosis and their care partners.
From squirrels scuttling through the trees to worms wriggling through the soil, discover woodland animals with stories and play at Animal Tails storytime for early years.
Take a tour around the Museum of Zoology and see specimen collected by Charles Darwin.
Join Curator of Malacology Dr Richard Preece as he describes the Sir Peter Scott Commemorative Expedition to the Pitcairn Islands in 1991-2.
Practice capturing the wonderful detail and atmosphere of skeletal photography with professional photographer Susan Elaine Jones.
Make like a swallow and escape the UK winter cold at the Museum of Zoology. Hear about the science of animal migrations, and explore warmer climes with arts and trails for grown ups.
Drop-in on the first Saturday of the month and join us for activities and art-making on the theme of 'start with art'.
Drop-in on the first Saturday of the month and join us for activities and art-making on the theme of 'Chinese New Year'.
Drop-in on the first Saturday of the month and join us for activities and art-making on the theme of 'spring fling'.
Drop-in on the first Saturday of the month and join us for activities and art-making on the theme of 'coin it'.
Join us for the last weekend of 'Richard Pousette-Dart: Beginnings, A Young Abstract Expressionist in New York'.
British pianist Ivana Gavrić performs at Kettle's Yard.
A concert with artists in residence Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective. Tom Poster (piano) will be playing with Karim Sulayman (tenor), Alec Frank-Gemmill (horn) and Mathilde Milwidsky (violin).
One of Britain’s finest string quartets, with a commitment to bringing together wide-ranging projects and programmes to expand the string quartet repertoire.
Violist and director Jennifer Stumm is recognized as one of the world’s dynamic and creative leaders for her instrument, known both for her distinctive sound and unbridled enthusiasm for music.
The Holy City of Jerusalem is central to the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Control of the city has been contested by the great empires of the region and has changed hands many times.
The story of the 1920s told through coins, medals and banknotes.
In 2015, the Museum received an exceptional collection of drawings, ceramics, glass and bronzes from Sir Ivor and Lady Batchelor, through the Art Fund.
Whistler & Nature casts a new light on the work of the great late-Victorian master, James McNeill Whistler.
To complement the major show on James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), the Print Room is holding an exhibition of the artist’s etchings, drypoints and lithographs focussing on people.
This exhibition is the first of two successive selections of works on paper to celebrate the outstanding generosity of benefactors and donors who have helped to enrich the collections.
The selection of work at Kettle’s Yard includes sculptures, prints and drawings, reflecting different periods in Bourgeois’ life, and is drawn from the ARTIST ROOMS collection.
Mehretu's new installation of richly layered drawings and monotypes, extending her dynamic exploration of the potential of drawing and mark making which are fundamental to her art.
This exhibition which focusses on the remarkable discoveries made at Star Carr.
This new exhibition in the small but perfectly-formed Spotlight Gallery is a collaboration with the Cambridge Rivers Project to celebrate the launch of the Digital Museum of Kun Opera.
A temporary display at the University Museum of Zoology highlights historical depictions of both exotic and more familiar animals.
This exhibition looks at the changing face of travel, production and population in the Milesian landscape (around the ancient city of Miletos, today in modern Turkey) through photographs.
Acclaimed as a pianist of “amazing power and panache” (The Telegraph), Clare Hammond is recognised for the virtuosity and authority of her performances.
The Piatti Quartet are one of the most distinguished quartets of their generation.
An evening with Savitri Grier and Richard Uttley
Polar Encounters features 200 years of Arctic art by Inuit artists and European travellers to the far north, showing different interpretations of life at home, at camp and at sea.
Our artists in residence, Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective return to Kettle’s Yard in the first concert of our summer term.
"We need more teeth" celebrates a recent donation of theropod dinosaur casts from Dr Andrew Hempel and that most famous of dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex.
How can we understand the history of the Earth's oceans by studying microfossils in columns of mud from the bottom of the sea?
Join us for an in depth experience with one of our knowledgeable Visitor Assistants.