Must Visit Museums in Cambridge & The Treasures You Will Find

As Cambridge is steeped in history it’s no surprise that it is home to some of the UK’s most prestigious museums. 

No matter if you prefer science, art, history or geography, there is a museum just waiting for you to discover its treasures. 

When visiting Cambridge for business or leisure, we can guarantee that a trip to one of the many renowned museums must be on your visit list during your stay. Not only will you find exploring these museums a real cultural experience, but the many prominent buildings that house these artefacts are also just as spectacular. 

The pillars of The Fitzwilliam Musuem in Cambridge

The Fitzwilliam Museum 

Founded in 1816 with the art collection of the 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam, the Fitzwilliam Museum is world-renowned for housing a collection of over half a million works of art, and historical artefacts. 

Across multiple galleries, you will discover treasures from antiquity to the present day, as well as art and specimens from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. There are also dedicated exhibitions of Europen pottery, Chinese jades and ceramics from Japan and Korea. 

One of the most exciting displays is the largest collection of 16th-century Elizabethan manuscript music written by some of the most notable composers of the time. 

If art is something you enjoy, then the Fitzwilliam also contains artwork by Monet, Picasso, Rubens, Vincent Van Gosh, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Van Dyck, and Canaletto. 

The Fitzwilliam museum is partnered with the University of Cambridge Museums and Botanic Gardens and is free for the public to visit during any time of the year. 

Dinosaur bones from The University Museum of Zoology in Cambridge

University Museum of Zoology 

Located on Downing Street, Cambridge, you’ll find the University Museum of Zoology, one of Cambridge’s major attractions. 

With thousands of animal specimens spanning the entire animal kingdom, from large animals such as giraffes and elephants to birds, reptiles and even insects. 

If you have a passion for understanding the animal world, you will be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the treasures you will discover here. At present, the collection contains approximately two million items. 

One of the most significant displays, and one of the museum’s highlights, is the skeleton of the extinct Dodo. 

The museum also holds many treasures and specimens discovered by great naturalists including Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.  

Many tourists and researchers flock here every year as it is a destination of great zoological significance. 

You will be delighted to know, that the Zoology Museum is also free to the public. 

A jet from the Imperial War Museum Duxford

Imperial War Museum Duxford 

While the Imperial War Museum Duxford is not based in the centre of Cambridge, it is easily accessed on the outskirts of Cambridge. 

The IWM Duxford is a brand of the UK’s Imperial War Museums and is Britains largest aviation museum. Amongst its exhibit, there are nearly 200 aircraft, military vehicles, artillery and minor naval vessels. 

As a global authority on conflict and its impact on people’s lives, the Imperial War Museums collection is vast and contains items and specimens from the First World War all the way to modern conflicts.

The Duxford site was originally operated under the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the First World War. In the Second World War Duxford play a key role in the Battle of Britain and was later used by the United States Army Air Forces to support the bombing of Germany. 

Duxford became part of the Imperial War Museum group in February 1976, opening its exhibits to the public to learn more about the conflicts that shook the world. 

For those with a deep interest in history, this would certainly be a museum of interest. 

An inside shot of The Polar Museum in Cambridge

The Polar Museum 

Under the University of Cambridge is The Scott Polar Research Institute, established in 1920 as part of the universities study of the Arctic and Antarctic. 

The museum houses the world’s largest Polar library and an extensive archive of photographs and objects related to polar missions and research. 

As well as documenting the history and contemporary exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic, this fascinating museums provides a deep dive into the continued research projects that currently exist on the topic. 

The Polar Museum is certainly one of Cambridge’s most unique attractions and just goes to show the variety of experiences you can discover during your stay. 

Fossils from the Sedgwick Museum Cambridge

The Sedgwick Museum of Geology 

The Sedgwick Museum of Geology is part of the University of Cambridge collection of museums and is home to the Department of Earth Sciences. 

As the oldest museum of the eight museums within the University of Cambridge portfolio, it was opened on 1st March 1904 in a ceremony attended by King Edward VII. 

The building itself is quite remarkable if you are fond of architecture. The construction of the Museum was supervised by Thoman McKenny Hughes who persuaded the University to build the museum and raised £95,000 by public appeal. 

The collection housed in the museum contains around 2 million rocks, minerals and fossils spanning a period of 4.5 billion years. 

A highly of the museum is The ‘Beagle’ Collection which comprises approximately 2000 rocks and a few fossils collected by Charles Darwin during his voyage around the world on HMS Beagle between 1831-1836.


Museum of Archeology and Anthropology 

Founded in 1884, The Museum of Archeology and Anthropology (MAA) is another within the University of Cambridge collection. 

The collection within the MAA spans nearly two millions years of human history from all six inhabited continents.

One of the most prominent and renowned collections includes early artefacts and objects from the voyages of Captain James Cook. In 1770, after returning to England from their voyage in the South Pacific Ocean, Captain James Cook brought back roughly fifty Australian Aboriginal spears. Four of these spears are now only in existence and are homed in the museum. 

There is also a strong collection of Anglo Saxon artefacts, as well as relics from the Palaeolithic era which are unique to the museum. 

Finds from the Cambridge Museum

Museum of Cambridge 

While this is one of Cambridge’s far smaller independent museums, it truly deserves a place on the list as it is one place you will find which is completely dedicated to the history of Cambridge itself. 

With over 300 years of history and housed in a beautiful 17th-century timber-framed building, the Museum of Cambridge provides an insight into everyday life, customs and traditions of the local people. 

In total there are nine themed rooms across the museum that provide exhibitions on various aspects of life and how people lived and worked since the 1660s. 

You will discover the normal, everyday objects and artefacts that were part of Cambridge life, but also more unusual items such as Fen folklore cures and remedies, to witch bottles. 

The Cambridge Museum is just a short walk from the city centre which makes this a perfect spot for a little lunchtime tourism. 

We hope that you have enjoyed finding out more about some of the wonderful local attractions, remember to add these to your list when staying in one of our serviced apartments in Cambridge, we are sure you will enjoy your stay.

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