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Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

January 19, 2013

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has a fascinating architecture – inside and out. The building seems much larger on the inside than you’d expect from the outside. It is also a labyrinth. I am certain I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere without the floor map. And I still managed to get lost. But that is part of the fun of museums, I think.

I can’t say I have seen a very large number of museums, but I have seen enough by now and it makes it increasingly difficult to honestly review a museum. The main problem is that I have seen quite a lot of artefacts at this point and some of the more spectacular collections will always outshine the ones that don’t have history defining artefacts. This, of course, is hardly fair. Therefore I will start with my conclusion: the Fitzwilliam Museum is a very nice museum. As always I did walk through most of it – my interests do extend beyond ancient Egypt, believe it or not – and everything is set up in such a way there is plenty of room to walk around and have a good look. They have a diverse collection, which is always good in my opinion: something for everyone.

With regards to the Egyptian artefacts I have to say their collection is very complete. With ‘complete’ I mean to say that they have managed to set up a display which covers all of ancient Egypt’s history. If you would not know a thing about ancient Egypt you can learn an awful lot at the Fitzwilliam. However, if you already know some things, it might seem a bit limited. Let me explain. There are three rooms filled with Egyptian artefacts. They are beautifully set up, as I said with lots of space. The information is quite good. I particularly liked the timeline of ancient Egypt in the second room. But because they cover seemingly everything there are only one or a few of everything. A few pots here, a coffin lid there. So if you’re looking for a large number of a particular type of object, you will be disappointed. It doesn’t seem to be the kind of collection a student would find extremely useful and that surprised me in a city like Cambridge…for obvious reasons.

Thankfully I wasn’t looking for anything in particular so I very much enjoyed my visit.
I liked how the chronology was clearly visible and the divide between life and death in Egypt was also clear. The information is clear and sufficient. I am always very happy when museums put their catalogue numbers on the display so I can investigate later at home. They also have computers available so you can investigate while you’re still there!
Most of the items on display are simply stunning. Even though I have by now very likely seen thousands of items from Egypt, I was still very impressed with the quality of this collection.
Besides, a lot of ‘big names’ have contributed to this collection, just check the list on their website.

One downside: no photography. So other than this post I have unfortunately nothing to show you. However, I hope that will not stop you from considering this museum if you’re looking for a place to go. Actually, it might help. You will have to go see for yourself what I cannot show you.


From → Museum visits

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