From Egyptian coffins to Impressionist masterpieces – the Fitzwilliam Museum’s world-class collections of art and antiquities span centuries and civilizations.
Closed Mon (except Bank Holidays when open 12.00-17.00) Closed Good Friday; 24,25,26 & 31 Dec and 1 Jan.
The Fitzwilliam Museum has magnificent permanent collections of international importance. The entire collection is a Designated Collection of national importance.
Holdings include antiquities from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome; English and European pottery and glass; furniture, clocks, fans and armour, coins, medals, illuminated, literary and music manuscripts and rare printed books; paintings, including masterpieces by Simone Martini, Domenico Veneziano, Veronese, Titian, Rubens, Hals, Van Dyck, Canaletto, Hogarth, Gainsborough, Constable, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Monet and Picasso, portrait miniatures and 20th century art, and changing displays of drawings, watercolours and prints. The collections also include artefacts from Sudan and Cyprus, and Chinese, Japanese and Korean art, rugs and samplers.
Founded in 1816, the Museum is housed in splendid buildings, the first of which, designed by George Basevi opened in 1848.
Items from this collection
Weapons and War, Music, Fine Art, Decorative and Applied Art, Costume and Textiles, Coins and Medals, Archaeology
Key artists and exhibits
- Ancient Egypt, Sudan
- Greece and Rome
- Roman and Romano-Egyptian Art
- Western Asiatic displays and Cypriot Art
- English and European pottery and glass, furniture, clocks, fans, armour
- Chinese, Japanese and Korean art
- Simone Martini, Domenico Veneziano, Titian, Veronese, Rubens, Van Dyck, Hals, Canaletto, Hogarth, Gainsborough, Constable, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Picasso
- Designated Collection
David Kindersley - Alphabetician, The Hidden Face of Lettering
- 21 April 2014 — 14 June 2015 *on now
A display to mark the Centenary of David Kindersley, letter carver and typeface designer of great originality and skill, whose work includes the iconic British Library gates and street sign lettering across the length and breadth of Britain. The exhibits on display at the Fitzwilliam are the starting point for a special Kindersley Walking Tour through Cambridge, culminating at Kettle’s Yard. Pick up a free guide at the Museum.
- 3 February — 31 May 2015 *on now
The British Royal Family’s long association with Germany began in 1714, when George I became the first Hanoverian king. This display uses coins and medals to show the main characters in the Royal Family from 1714 to George III, and the struggle with the rival Stuart dynasty and their Jacobite supporters. It highlights the exploits of the Georgian Royal Navy and the creation of a world empire, temporarily halted by the American Revolution. And it explores money in Georgian Britain.
- 3 February — 9 August 2015 *on now
These magnificent metre-high bronze male nudes astride two ferocious panthers are now on display in the 16th to 18th century Italian Gallery (7) of the Fitzwilliam Museum.
A team of international experts led by the University of Cambridge and Fitzwilliam Museum has gathered compelling evidence that argues that these masterpieces, which have spent over a century in relative obscurity, are early works by Michelangelo, made just after he completed the marble David and as he was about to embark on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
If the attribution is correct, they are currently the only surviving Michelangelo bronzes in the world by his hand.
Modern Heroism: Printmaking and the legacy of Napoleon Bonaparte
- 3 February — 28 June 2015 *on now
An exhibition to mark the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon spread liberal reform across Europe and to his supporters his legacy was that of a modern hero. Post-Napoleonic France was characterised by constant unrest and political upheaval which coincided with a revolution in printmaking as the new technique of lithography flourished. Quick and cheap to issue in large numbers, lithography became the medium through which a new generation of artists was able to disseminate its art and political views to the masses.
Highlights of the exhibition include prints by Charlet and Raffet, who contributed to Napoleon’s heroic legacy through glorifying war and military personnel; works by Delacroix and Gericault that respond to the drama and tragedy of the period; and satirical prints by Daumier.
- Family friendly
MOONSTRIPS: Eduardo Paolozzi and the printed collage 1965-72
- 17 February — 7 June 2015 *on now
Eduardo Paolozzi’s use of found images and words cut from popular magazines and scientific journals played a formative role in the development of British art in the 1950s and 60s. He adapted the technique of collage to printed media in spectacular sets - often seen as highlights of Pop Art - such as Moonstrips Empire News (1967), General Dynamic F.U.N. (1970), Cloud Atomic Laboratory (1971) and Bunk! (1972). With the writer J. G. Ballard, his collaborator on the innovative Ambit magazine, Paolozzi formulated a dazzling visual and verbal accompaniment to the space-age.
A Young Man's Progress
- 24 March — 6 September 2015 *on now
An impressive display of five modern photographic recreations - printed to large scale - telling the fictional story of Matthew Smith, a young man from North London, who is obsessed with clothes. The modern photographs are based upon images commissioned between 1520 and 1560 by Matthäus Schwarz, one of the most committed fashion innovators of his time. See old and new images juxtaposed, along with a creation made in response to Schwarz’s Renaissance dress.
A Young Man's Progress is a collaboration between sisters, artist-photographer Maisie Broadhead and fashion designer Bella Newell (Burberry)
and Professor Ulinka Rublack.
Close-up and Personal: Eighteenth-century gold boxes from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection
- 24 March — 6 September 2015 *on now
Fashionable among both men and women, these exquisite and elegant containers were one of the most popular accessories in eighteenth-century Europe.
They were often used to hold snuff (a scented preparation of powdered tobacco) or sweetmeats. The most lavish and precious boxes were the choice present of royalty and exemplify court culture and fashion in miniature.
Gold boxes combine the best design and making of the period and were carefully chased and cast in precious metal, encrusted with jewels, painted with the finest enamel and set with exotic materials. Paris remained the most important centre and set the taste that makers elsewhere aspired to emulate. Best admired close-up, their intricate decorations also reflect changes in society and constantly followed new styles and fashions.
Treasured Possessions from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment
- 24 March — 6 September 2015 *on now
A dazzling journey through the decorative arts: from the hand-crafted luxuries of the Renaissance to the first stirrings of mass commerce in the Enlightenment.
Each of the 300 beautiful and engaging objects was once a treasured possession, revealing the personal tastes and aspirations of its owner, and preserving precious memories.
Witness the impact of global trade on European tastes: the lust for goods imported from the East, the revolutions caused by New World products like chocolate and sugar. European shoppers were lured by dazzling colours, intricate designs, constant technological innovation and the glamour of the exotic.
- 29 April — 31 May 2015 *on now
A small installation of four birdcages by contemporary artist Xu Bing. The birdcages are formed by metal words - questions and answers about the artist’s work. Make a noise around the artworks and the toy birds inside will revolve and emit sound in response. Xu Bing was the former President of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, and has previously exhibited works at The British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Ashmolean Museum.
- 16 June — 4 October 2015
The Fitzwilliam Museums’ collection of watercolours by J.M.W. Turner was founded in 1861 by the generous gift of twenty-five watercolours from John Ruskin, Turner’s most fervent champion and critic. The exhibition includes watercolours made for engraving, book illustration and vignettes, as well as landscape watercolours.
The restrictions which Ruskin imposed on the terms of his gift mean that these drawings may not be lent outside the Museum. This exhibition offers a unique opportunity to view the Turner watercolours that once formed part of his collection.
WATERCOLOUR - Elements of nature
- 16 June — 27 September 2015
Stunning landscapes, exquisite portrait miniatures and delicate flower drawings by masters including Samuel Palmer and Paul Cézanne - the collection of watercolours in the Fitzwilliam Museum is one of the finest in the world.
Rarely exhibited and in superb condition, the works on show highlight the extraordinary versatility of the medium, showing how it was used from the Middle Ages onwards to illuminate manuscripts, paint delicate likenesses, accurately record botanical detail and to capture fleeting moments of nature.
Drawn exclusively from the Fitzwilliam’s outstanding collections, the exhibition will include miniatures by Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, botanical drawings by Georg Ehret and Pierre-Joseph Redouté, as well as a series of superb landscape watercolours by John Constable, Peter de Wint, John Sell Cotman, Samuel Palmer, J. M. Whistler, John Singer Sargent, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro and Paul Nash.
Necklace for an Elephant & Other Stories: The working lives of David Poston
- 1 July — 13 September 2015
Described as a ‘restless non-conformist’, David Poston’s career has seen him in many guises as an avant-garde jeweller, political activist, photographer, author, engineer and inventor, to name just a few. This display of Poston’s jewellery spans four decades and focuses on a selection of exuberant and thought-provoking pieces.
Designed to Impress: Highlights from the print collection
- 7 July — 27 September 2015
This exhibition features a selection of some of the Fitzwilliam's most spectacular prints from the fifteenth to the twenty-first centuries, giving visitors an insight into the extraordinary breadth of the collection. See works by some of the greatest Old Master printmakers, including Rembrandt and Dürer, hanging alongside prints by later artists such as Canaletto, Blake and Munch.