Collections, libraries and museums

Collections, libraries and museums

  • decorative
    Photo © Martin Bond

Cambridge’s collections have multiple lives, embracing public and private histories, personal and scientific interest and the past and the present. They illuminate the wider activities, histories and environments of the people who made them and the worlds they represent.

We draw upon our collections to conduct pioneering research. By investing in our collections and museums, our ambition is to deepen public understanding of cultures and peoples across the planet.

Accumulated over nearly 300 years, the collections contain materials from the dawn of human activity and beyond, and objects that stir our innate sense of wonder. As well as being a vital resource for research, teaching and cross-disciplinary exploration, they are an important means by which academic Cambridge shares its knowledge with the wider public, stimulating engagement with the subjects to which they relate. By animating concepts and ideas, they raise educational aspiration in the most powerful way there is: by appealing to the imagination.

Opportunities in 'Collections, libraries and museums'

Autumn colour at the Botanic Garden
The Cambridge University Botanic Garden holds a plant collection of over 8000 plant species from all over the world to facilitate teaching and research. The Garden provides resources including plant material, horticultural expertise and facilities to research workers and lecturers.
University Library tower
Cambridge University Library is one of the world’s most important repositories of the recorded word – in media ranging from 3000-year-old bone to the latest digital resources.
Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies library
The Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Library contains around 70,000 monograph volumes and around 180 current journals.
Fitzwilliam Museum Founders' building interior
The Fitzwilliam Museum is the principal museum of the University of Cambridge. Its core purpose is to safeguard the collections, to make them accessible for study and enjoyment and to preserve them for future generations.
McDonald monographs in the Haddon Library
Haddon Library is the University of Cambridge's library for archaeology and anthropology.
Lindley collection specimen
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 a resource both for scholars and the wider public.
Kettle's Yard collection objects
Kettle's Yard is a remarkable house and collection, opened in 1957. It hosts a programme of contemporary art exhibitions, learning activities and music for the benefit of the public.
Marshall Library of Economics
The Marshall Library's main purpose is to support teaching and research in both the Faculty of Economics and in the Centre of Development Studies.
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology exhibits
The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology holds world-class collections representing the arts of the world, the history of humanity, and the diversity and resilience of global culture in the present.
Museum of Classical Archaeology tour (Alumni Festival 2014)
Our Museum collections span the length and breadth of the Graeco-Roman world and cover a time period reaching from 1700 BCE to 400 CE.
The Finback whale skeleton, shown in the University of Cambridge's Museum of Zoology
The Museum of Zoology is home to a huge variety of recent and fossil animals, including collections made by great naturalists of the past.
Sedgwick Museum raptor skeleton
The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences is the oldest of the University of Cambridge museums, having been established in 1728. A walk through the museum takes you on a 4.5 billion year journey through time, from the meteoritic building blocks of planets to the thousands of fossils of animals and plants that illustrate the evolution of life in the oceans, on land and in the air.
Whipple museum interior
The Whipple Museum holds an internationally important collection of scientific instruments and models, dating from the Middle Ages to the present. As well as being open to the public, it is regularly used by the Department's staff and students for teaching and research.

Related stories

The University of Cambridge has been awarded £3m from the AHRC's Capability for Collections Fund to invest in equipment and refurbishment that will enable researchers from across the UK and worldwide to undertake new research into its heritage collections.