For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Cambridge University Museum of Zoology.

Cambridge University Museum of Zoology

University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge
Giant Finback whale at the Museum of Zoology
Giant Finback whale at the Museum of Zoology
LocationMuseum of Zoology, Downing Street, Cambridge. CB2 3EJ
TypeUniversity Museum
AccreditationArts Council England accredited
CollectionsFossils, Vertebrates, Birds, Insects, Molluscs, Invertebrates
Visitors103,604 (2022)[1]
Museum ManagerJack Ashby
DirectorProfessor Rebecca Kilner
OwnerUniversity of Cambridge
University of Cambridge Museums

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 public is welcome and admission is free (2018).[2] The Museum of Zoology is in the David Attenborough Building, formerly known as the Arup Building, on the New Museums Site, just north of Downing Street in central Cambridge, England.[3] The building also provides a home for the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, a biodiversity project.

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.[4]

The museum reopened on 23 June 2018 after a major redevelopment[2][5] for which it had been awarded a grant of £1.8m by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The redevelopment aimed to create a "green" building" and 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.[6]

The museum is one of the eight museums of the University of Cambridge Museums consortium.[7]

History of the museum

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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10]

The museum was moved into the current purpose-designed building during 1968–70.[11] Five separate stores currently house the collection of specimens. Small refurbishments were made in 2017.


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. [12]

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

Fin whale skeleton, Museum of Zoology Cambridge

Before the redevelopment a 21.3 m (70 ft) finback whale skeleton, colloquially known as Bobby, was displayed at the entrance of the museum; it was dismantled and stored during the redevelopment. The new interior entrance hall now contains this skeleton which was extensively cleaned before being reassembled. 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 Rodrigues 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


  1. ^ "ALVA - Association of Leading Visitor Attractions". Retrieved 30 June 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Cambridge zoology museum to reopen after £4.1m revamp - Maev Kennedy - The Guardian". Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  3. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge: About us". Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  4. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge: Collections". Archived from the original on 22 March 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  5. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge | Welcome". Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Museum of Zoology". Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Our Museums | University of Cambridge". 6 August 2013. Archived from the original on 20 May 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  8. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge: Historical Significance". Archived from the original on 19 November 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  9. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge: Our History". Archived from the original on 23 March 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Cambridge University Museum of Zoology: Histories & Archives". Archived from the original on 19 November 2010. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  11. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge | Welcome". Archived from the original on 4 August 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  12. ^ "University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge: Historical Significance". Archived from the original on 19 November 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2016.

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

{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Cambridge University Museum of Zoology
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?