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Museums and collections


From March to July 2013 specimens, objects and artworks from the University of Cambridge museums and collections took up residence at Kettle's Yard. The 'guests', from butterflies to Inuit carving, invited visitors to see Kettle's Yard in a new light and to discover more about the Cambridge University museums.

The House Guests were selected by the museums' directors in collaboration with Kettle's Yard Associate Artist Jeremy Millar.

It is not simply the beauty of the artworks collected at Kettle’s Yard that makes it such an extraordinary place, but rather how these are placed amongst domestic items, and gathered natural objects. By inviting objects from the collections of the University of Cambridge Museums to visit, too, such juxtapositions will be made all the more diverse, and richer as a result.” Jeremy Millar, 2013

Ammonite - Australiceras gigas, Cretaceous (a geological period c.130 million years ago)
Found in Atherfield, Isle of Wight by Rev. Thomas Wiltshire, mid-19th century
Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
The specimen is a fossilised ammonite, an extinct marine animal related to squid, octopuses and cuttlefish (also known as cephalopods). This object is unique due to its large size and its partial uncurling from the spiral shell shape. Ammonites are thought to be free swimmers, but this type may have just crawled around on the ocean floor.
Location: Dining Room

Luke Anowtalik (1932-2006)
Faces, 1989
Soapstone carving
The Polar Museum
Luke Anowtalik is considered to be one of the great founders of contemporary art in North-West Canada’s Keewatin region. Born in 1932 around Ennadai Lake, he was raised according to the traditional beliefs and customs of the
Ihalmiut, a group of Inuit people. His work features family groups, often as clusters of heads, emerging from the stone.
Location: Downstairs

Old Father Lives Forever, Pelargonium cotyledonis L Herit
Geraniaceae (the Geranium family)
Origin St. Helena
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
‘Old Father Lives Forever’ is a branched shrublet with succulent stems. Found only on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic, about 2000 km west of the African coast. It is believed that the local name was given because of its ability to stay alive for months without soil or water.
Location: Conservatory, Bridge

Marguerite Milward (1873-1953)
Bronze portrait of Luivao, 1938
Bronze and marble
Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology
One of a series of over 100 sculptures of Indian physical and social types by Milward. Initially acclaimed for their vitality as artworks and accuracy as anthropological data, the sculptures have since been associated with the theories and practices of colonial anthropology that have raised complex questions about difficult and contentious periods in history.
Location: Dancer Room

Cairns Birdwing, Ornithoptera euphorion
Butterfly collected 1910
Found north of Cairns and 12 miles inland from Port Douglas, North Queensland
University Museum of Zoology
The Cairns Birdwing is Australia’s largest butterfly. It is also known as the Cooktown Birdwing and the Northern Birdwing. The name Cairns Birdwing is a reference to the city, Cairns, in Queensland, Australia, where this butterfly is found.
Location: Helen's Bedroom

Marie Louise von Motesïczky (1906-1996)
Mother in Bed, 1977/78
Charcoal and oil on canvas
The Fitzwilliam Museum
Marie Louise von Motesïczky is a 20th Century Austrian artist. This is one of three paintings by the artist owned by The Fitzwilliam Museum. It is the final painting she made of her mother, Henriette von Motesiczky, while they shared a home in Hampstead, North London. Motesïczky painted many portraits of her mother throughout her life.
Location: Helen’s bedroom

Stereoscopic Viewer, Early 20th century
Produced by Paris Photographic Co.
Whipple Museum of the History of Science
A stereoscope is a device for viewing a pair of images, depicting left-eye and right-eye views of the same slide, thereby making a 3D image. This stereoscope also has a large circular magnifying lens for looking at pictures and postcards.
Location: Attic

Archaic Stele, 6th century
Floor based relief/carving
Plaster cast, original is bluish marble
Found south of the ruins of old Sparta near Magula, Greece. Original now in Sparta Museum
The Museum of Classical Archaeology
This relief sculpture is from Sparta, a city state in Ancient Greece. It is similar to other reliefs showing Castor and Pollux, twin brothers from ancient Greek mythology, but this relief shows a man and a woman. On one side they look friendly and on the other hostile. The puzzle is, who are they?
Location: Attic

Part of the project was a collaboration with the Critical Writing in Art and Design programme at the Royal College of Art. The students contributed to a publication that accompanied the exhibition, featuring interviews with museum curators and essays by Jeremy Millar. The House Guests publication is available for sale in the Kettle's Yard shop.