Cambridge University Museum of Zoology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge
Zoology museum, Cambridge.jpg
Giant Finback whale at the Museum of Zoology
Country United Kingdom
Location Cambridge
Items collected Fossils, vertebrates, Birds, Insects, Molluscs, Invertebrates
Other information
Director Professor Paul Brakefield [1]

The University Museum of Zoology is a museum of the University of Cambridge and part of the research community of the Department of Zoology. The Museum houses an extensive collection of scientifically important zoological material. The collections were Designated in 1998 by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (now managed by the Arts Council England) as being of outstanding historical and international importance.[2]

The Museum of Zoology is on the New Museums Site, just north of Downing Street in central Cambridge, England. Admission is free (2014).[3]

The Museum is currently closed (2014) while it undergoes a major redevelopment,[4] for which it has been awarded a grant of £1.8m by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The redevelopment aims to create displays and new interpretation to engage people with the wonders of animal diversity; create new stores to care for the Museum’s internationally significant collections to the highest standards and expand the Museum’s learning programmes, reaching out to wider audiences and increasing online resources. The museum will reopen in autumn 2017.[5]

The Museum is one of the eight museums of the University of Cambridge Museums consortium.[6]

History of the Museum[edit]

Much of the Museum’s material derives from the great collecting expeditions of the 19th century, which provided the first documentation of the fauna in many parts of the world.[7] The earliest exhibits come from the Harwood anatomical collection which was purchased in 1814. The museum added further collections including birds from Swainson and animals from the Cambridge Philosophical Society, to which Charles Darwin himself had contributed.[8]

Past Superintendents of the museum include: William Clark 1817-1866, John Willis Clark 1866-1892, Sidney Frederic Harmer 1892-1908, Reginald Crundall Punnett 1908-1909, and Leonard Doncaster 1909-1914.[9]

The Museum was moved into the current purpose-designed building during 1968–70.[10] Five separate stores currently house the collection of specimens.


Many of the collections were assembled during the nineteenth century, which was a key period for the development of modern biology. Much of the material was accumulated between 1865 and 1915 through private collections and expeditions. Cambridge was a centre of major importance for the development of biology, and several of the individuals associated with the Museum were central figures in the most active areas of scientific debate. [11]

Collections and letters from various collectors are on display, including collections of:

Until recently a 21.3 m (70 ft) finback whale skeleton, colloquially known as Bobby, was displayed at the entrance of the museum; it has recently been dismantled and stored during the redevelopment. Skeletons and preserved skins of many extinct animals are housed in the museum. Most of the fish specimens are stored in spirit, some of them having been collected by Darwin himself on the voyage of HMS Beagle from 1831 - 1836. The bird collection consists of skins, eggs and skeletal material. There are skeletal remains from extinct birds such as the dodo from Mauritius and the solitaire from Rodrigues in the collection. The insect collection contains specimens collected by Darwin from around Cambridge. Collections of molluscs, corals and other sea-dwellers offer insight into the biological diversity of the oceans.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge | People". 2011-08-02. Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  2. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge: Collections". Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  3. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge: Who We Are". Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  4. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge | Welcome". Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  5. ^ Retrieved 27 June 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Our Museums | University of Cambridge". 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  7. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge: Historical Significance". Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  8. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge: Our History". Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  9. ^ "Cambridge University Museum of Zoology: Histories & Archives". Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge | Welcome". Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  11. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge: Historical Significance". Retrieved 2016-02-06. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°12′12″N 0°07′13″E / 52.2033°N 0.1204°E / 52.2033; 0.1204