A Few Museums

Cambridge isn’t all that big a town, but it’s museums are, understandably, really nice.  In this post I’ll show you a few pictures of the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the Fitzwilliam.  Having been to the first two of these before, I didn’t think to snap enough picture for thorough reviews, but I hope you’ll find these interesting.

My first stop was at the Sedgwick, home to this Iguanadon.P1030161One of the fun things about this museum is that in addition to displaying a good bit of information on earth science, it also gives you a look at the history of how scientific theories have changed as different discoveries have been made.  For example, they’ve included a statue that portrays the Iguanadon as Victorian scientists thought it might have looked, which I’ve pictured above.  Notice it walks on all fours and has a horn on its nose.  Later scientists decided that that horn actually belonged on its thumb and that it walked on its hind legs, as seen below.  Still more recent scientists have reconsidered that notion and put it back on four legs, but left the horns on the thumbs.  Since I study history, not science, I enjoyed learning about all of these scientists playing with different theories – maybe more than I enjoyed learning about the theories themselves.

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Skipping a great many rocks, let’s move on to this skeleton of a hippopotamus.  The sign labels it “hippopotamus amphibius” which, as you might know, is exactly the same scientific name applied to the hippos living in Africa today. But this specimen was found in southern England.  Apparently quite a few more hippo skeletons were found in London when the subway tubes were being dug out.  I like thinking that there used to be hippos (among other familiar yet foreign creatures) living in Britain.

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Here’s an Irish Elk:

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Here are the skulls from several wild cattle.  They were actually pretty common throughout Europe for a long time, but were hunted out during the Middle Ages.

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Following this short expedition, I made a quick stop at the Anthropology and Archaeology Museum, as I just heard that an old friend of mine from my time in Iceland had helped design their temporary exhibit on Tibetan Buddhist monks (which I forgot to take any pictures of – my apologies).  But here’s a view of the main gallery on the second floor.

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And here’s a view from the third floor.

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And now for what’s probably the nicest of Cambridge’s museums: the Fitzwilliam.

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Deprived of all of its collections, the building alone would be worth any tourist’s time.  But its hoards of artifacts from Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and Rome, as well as its paintings from the Renaissance to the Victorian period are also well worth seeing.  But for now, here’s another shot of the building.

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Marble comes in red and yellow.  This was news to me.

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Just above the red part of the walls are plaster casts of frescos from Greek temples.  At first I didn’t even think to look at them, as I just assumed they were designed for the building.  I like this incorporation of exhibit materials into the architecture of the building.  When I go back, I’ll look more carefully to see if the same is true for those statues up closer to the ceiling.

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Now here’s King’s College Chapel:

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And here’s an English Longhorn:

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