As the jewel in the University of Cambridge’s museum crown, the Fitzwilliam is a must-see for guests of Tamburlaine. As a museum with a focus on fine art and antiquities, The Fitzwilliam has garnered an internationally acclaimed collection in its two hundred-year history. Visitors will also be blown away by its stunning architecture, which adds character to the heart of Cambridge.
After the 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam’s death in 1816, he bequeathed his extensive collection of art and books to the University of Cambridge. Using his £100,000, Fitzwilliam wished for his collection to become a “good substantial museum repository” and to further the learnings of the next generation after his death. Since its original construction, the Fitzwilliam building has changed location several times and is now located on Trumpington Street. The current Founders Building was first opened in 1848 and adds to the skyline of Cambridge a grand neo-classical, white Portland stone columned entrance.
What to see
The museum itself comprises five departments. These are Antiquities; Applied Arts; Coins and Medals; Manuscripts and Printed Books; and Paintings, Drawings and Prints, and spans antiquities from Ancient Egypt, Sudan, Ancient Rome and Greece. The fine arts collection also includes works by Monet, Renoir, Constable and Picasso, with an extensive collection of watercolours by J.M.W Turner. The art on show at the Fitzwilliam covers the English, Flemish, Dutch, French, German and Italian schools of painting. Of further note are two bronze statues thought to be the last remaining sculptures by renaissance artist Michelangelo. Of its current temporary exhibitions, you can catch the Frau Valleschi collection of paintings, sculptures, glass and ceramics as well as exploring the world of illuminated manuscripts. Henry Moore’s abstract sculptures can be found dotted around the grounds of the museum. Next year hosts a variety of talks, ranging from the representation of women in classical art to next month’s talk on the collection of antique US coins. There are plenty of educational opportunities for children, teenagers and adults alike. These include a variety of lectures, short courses, workshops, conferences and seminars.
Directions and opening times
The museum is open between 10am and 5pm Tuesday to Saturday and from midday to 5pm on Sundays. Tamburlaine is a fifteen-minute walk to the Fitzwilliam museum. On foot, take a right up Hills Road and the fifth left up the A603 before a right into Trumpington Street.