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Museums and collections


The eight University of Cambridge Museums represent the country’s highest concentration of internationally important collections outside London. With more than five million works of art, artefacts and specimens the collections span four and a half billion years. Our aim is enable more people to engage with our collections, expertise and research.

The University of Cambridge Museums exist for all, and are open and free to the public.  This is only possible due to generous funding from the University of Cambridge, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Arts Council England, a variety of Trusts and Foundations, philanthropic support from generous donors and volunteers.

On this page we outline some of the ways in which our museums contribute to society, and the benefits brought by this investment in our museums. 

Cultural Value

“I now feel that museums are part of us all. It put a whole new dimension to looking at artefacts”
Sing that Thing participant, 2014

Our museums entertain and inspire our audiences, bringing communities together and informing individual and community identity. In 2013-14…

• Over 40 new exhibitions attracted over 570,000 visits to our museums
• 658,743 people visited our museums
• 98% of visitors rated their visit as ‘good’ or ‘very good’
• Over 11,600 people participated in our evening opening events Twilight at the Museums and Museums at Night

For further information and case studies on how the University of Cambridge Museums contribute to Culture, please see our blog.  


“I’d not been to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology before. But after our tour I took my grand daughter there during half term and we had so much fun together looking at the totem pole and trying all the children’s craft activities."
Participant, Cambridgeshire Celebrates Age event, 2014

Our museums contribute to health, welfare and inclusion, engaging with vulnerable and marginalised communities. In 2013-14…

• 14,353 participants engaged in 392 outreach activities
• 8558 people participated in 110 events at 25 museums across Cambridgeshire during Summer at the Museums 2013
• We work in partnership with Cambridge City Council’s Children and Young People’s Participation Service (ChYpPs)

For further information and case studies on how the University of Cambridge Museums contribute to Society, please see our blog.


“As I left the museum I felt more wiser (sic) and I felt more eager to come back again to this museum”
Student, North Cambridge Academy, 2013

“For many this was their first trip to a museum; it has given them access to aspects of their heritage and culture which had been closed to them previously.”
Dr Carin Taylor, Principal, Soham village College, Staploe Education Trust, 2014

Our museums contribute to all stages of the education system. From primary school to life-long personal development, they inspire self-expression and creativity and help to develop transferable skills. In 2013-14…

• Our collections received more than 3,000 research visits
• We are an Arts Award Good Practice Centre, offering all 5 levels of the Award
• 200 young people participated in Arts Award activities
• 1,307 visits were made by schools, with 33,493 students engaging with the collections

For further information and case studies on how the University of Cambridge Museums contribute to Education, please see our blog.  


“this has given me a sense of pride and satisfaction in my work, as well as an opportunity to push myself further and discover what more I could do.”
Alice Saunders, University of Cambridge Museums Intern, 2013

Our museums bring visitor revenue into the local economy, whilst offering a wide range of employment, training and work experience opportunities. In 2013-14…

• Over 430 volunteers contributed more than 19,600 hours of their time, with an estimated value of £127,000 to the museums
• We offer a range of paid internships and apprenticeships providing early career experience for young people
• 79 people participated in work experience taster days
• More than 1,500 objects were loaned to other venues nationally and internationally

For further information and case studies on how the University of Cambridge Museums contribute to the Economy, please see our blog.  

Find out more about the work taking place across the University of Cambridge Museums in our annual Activity Highlights report.

The University of Cambridge Museums programme is funded by Arts Council England, and our museums are among thousands of organisations supported by Arts Council's public funding for Arts and Culture in England, which costs each person just 14p per week. This investment helps to build communities, boost tourism, create employment, enhance educational attainment, drive economic growth and support, enable and showcase talent.

Find information on the benefit of arts and culture investment on the Arts Council's website.