skip to content

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

A view of the Cambridge Gallery at MAA

Welcome to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

MAA is a museum of humanity's history over hundreds of thousands of years, of world cultures over recent centuries, and of Indigenous life and art in the present.

MAA is also a local museum. For nearly 140 years it has been the place where archaeological finds from Cambridge and from our region are preserved, researched and displayed.

Locally and globally, it is a revelation of people's stories, through extraordinary things they have made, past and present.

 

History and collections

MAA, founded in 1884, reflected growing public and scholarly interest in archaeology and anthropology. The Museum curators were and are primarily Cambridge academics, and together with other University lecturers and research students, they made collections in the course of fieldwork. Archaeological finds, artefacts and art works were also donated by former Cambridge students, some were bought through auctions or the art market, and up until the 1950s it was common for museums to exchange objects and collections with other museums, often in different countries.

 

Curators and Museum-affiliated researchers continue to collect contemporary material, with the support of communities they work with around the world. Increasingly, such collections are 'co-produced': local people consider how they want to be represented in a university museum in Britain and create artefacts and art works for us, on commission. MAA has also, over the last twenty years, built an increasingly important collection of contemporary art, representing Indigenous practitioners who otherwise lack visibility in UK art institutions, as well as British and other artists whose works are relevant to the Museum's work and collections.

 

What's on at MAA?

MAA is a public museum and normally welcomes 80,000 visitors a year; we run busy programmes for schools and other local groups. The Museum is also part of the University of Cambridge, working closely with other University museums, and is fully involved in University teaching and research. MAA is renowned for wide-ranging relationships with communities, artists, researchers, universities and museums worldwide. Artefacts and art works from the collections are often lent, short and long-term, to major touring exhibitions at leading international museums, and to local museums close to communities of origin. Over recent years, MAA collections have been accessible through exhibitions in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Mongolia, China, India, France, Germany, the United States and many other countries.  

Two million years of human history. One million artefacts. Countless astonishing stories.