Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
01223 333 516
01223 333 517
Founded in 1884, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology holds world-class collections of art and artefacts from all over the world, representing cultures and histories over millennia.
In 1997 the Museum's entire collection was recognised as a Designated Collection of national importance and in 2013 the museum was shortlisted for the Art Fund's Museum of the Year Prize.
Open Tuesday - Saturday 10.30am - 4.30pm and Sunday 12.00 - 4.30pm
Closed Bank Holiday Mondays
The entire collection of this museum is a Designated Collection of national importance.
This museum was founded in 1884 on the basis of two important collections: the Cambridge Antiquarian Society collection relating to British archaeology; and anthropological artefacts from the South Seas acquired by, among others, the museum's first curator, Baron Anatole von Hügel. The collections now comprise approximately half a million archaeological items and over 150,000 ethnographic objects. Most have been acquired through Cambridge-based research and are exceptionally well documented.
The strengths of the archaeological collections include their worldwide scope and the extensive Palaeolithic and Mesolithic material. Important anthropological collections include artefacts from Cook's first voyage to the Pacific in 1769 and artefacts and photographs from the 1898 Cambridge Expedition to the Torres Strait.
Items from this collection
World Cultures, Costume and Textiles, Archaeology
Key artists and exhibits
- In addition to the permanent displays the following special exhibitions are currently on view:
- Paired Brothers: concealment and revelation (Iatmul ritual art from the Sepik, Papua New Guinea)
- Coveney: Island Identity in the Fens
- ROCK-ART image people land knowledge
- Vanuatu Stael: Kastom & Creativity
- Designated Collection
Buddha's Word: The Life of Books in Tibet and Beyond
- 28 May 2014 — 17 January 2015 *on now
Buddha’s Word is the first exhibition of Tibetan material in Cambridge. It is also the first time in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s history that its Buddhist collections will be showcased in an exhibition.
Developed in partnership with the Mongolia and Inner Asia Research Unit and with support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Frederick Williamson Memorial Fund, Buddha’s Word brings together collections and research from three of the University of Cambridge Museums – the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and the Fitzwilliam Museum – as well as the University Library and Emmanuel and Pembroke Colleges.
Many of the artefacts, prints and manuscripts in the exhibition have never been on public display before. Exhibits include some of the oldest illuminated Buddhist manuscripts from the first decades of the eleventh century as well as specimens of skilfully illuminated wooden covers; a quartet of scroll paintings brought back from the infamous Younghusband Expedition; and a gift from the 13th Dalai Lama.
The exhibition charts some of the incredible journeys that the words of the Buddha have taken: crossing mountains and oceans and taking different material forms in different places. This is the story of the transformation of Buddha’s words, from palmleaf, to paper, to digital dharma. It focuses on books, not just as objects of learning and study, but as relics of the Buddha, and sacred objects in their own right.
You will never look at a book in the same way again.
- Any age
Curating Cambridge - Buddha's Word Gallery Talks
- 28 October 2014 1-1:30pm
- 4 November 2014 1-1:30pm
- 11 November 2014 1-1:30pm
- 18 November 2014 1-1:30pm
Come along for a series of talks that reveal the incredible journeys the words of the Buddha have taken. Explore the first exhibition of Tibetan material in Cambridge and uncover the power of the written word.
'Buddha's Word: The life of Books in Tibet and Beyond' exhibition displays some of the world's oldest Buddhist manuscripts. It traces the journeys taken by Buddha's word and explores the idea of text as a sacred object, the long history of printing in Tibet and the processes and materials involved in the production of books.
Suitable for ages 12+
Curating Cambridge - Unearthing Cambridge: gallery talk
- 24 October 2014 1-1:30pm
- 31 October 2014 1-1:30pm
- 7 November 2014 1-1:30pm
- 14 November 2014 1-1:30pm
- 21 November 2014 1-1:30pm
Rediscover your city through this series of talks based on the displays in our Cambridge Archaeology Gallery. Each talk will unearth something of Cambridge's past.
suitable for ages 12+
Curating Cambridge - The Incredible Life of Tibetan Books
- 28 — 30 October 2014
Discover the magical power of written words and their journey to Cambridge through hands-on activities inspired by our exhibition 'Buddha's Word: The life of Books in Tibet and Beyond'. The exhibition tells the story of the incredible journeys the words of Buddha have taken. It explores the idea of text as a sacred object, the long history of printing in Tibet and the processes and materials involved in the production of books.
- Any age
Curating Cambridge - Build a Day of the Dead Altar
- 31 October — 2 November 2014
Take part in The Day of the Dead Celebrations by helping the museum and Mexican Society build an altar. As the altar grows through the weekend, explore vibrant connection between life and death and join us for special celebrations on 2 November. Every year on 2 November, Mexicans colourfully decorate and prepare home altars to honour deceased relatives for the 'Day of the Dead'. These altars' offerings (ofrendas) consist of flowers, candles, sugar skulls, breads and items that the deceased person liked in life. This ritual celebration is highly respected and is a very important part of the Mexican identity.
- Any age
Young Archaeologists' Club (YAC)
The Cambridge branch of the Young Archaeologist's Club is hosted by the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Meetings in Cambridge are held monthly and past activities have included fieldwalking, site visits, and an archaeological pottery session.
How to obtain
Call the museum front desk on 01223 333516 for more details or to join.