A new collections study centre for MAA

We are hugely excited to be embarking on the most ambitious collections project undertaken by MAA for generations: the rehousing of our off-site collections to a refurbished historic Cold War bunker in south Cambridge, where they will be more digitally and physically accessible.

Over the next five years, approximately 250,000 archaeological and ethnographic objects cared for by MAA will move to their new home, close to the heart of Cambridge. A Project Team of up to 10 people will inventory, hazard check, and make digital images of the artefacts; pack them for removal and storage; and ensure their safe transport and rehousing in the new store. Our goal is to ensure that the collections are both appropriately stored and made physically and intellectually accessible through visits to the new store and digitally through MAA’s online catalogue. The new, purpose-built object lab will welcome researchers, students, community groups and other stakeholders from Cambridge and around the world.

The University of Cambridge is supporting the refit of the nuclear bunker to be a state-of-the-art study and storage facility for MAA’s off-site collections. The bunker was completed in the 1960s and was intended to serve as the regional seat of government for the Eastern region (RSG-4) after a nuclear attack. It never served its original purpose, fortunately, and has lain unused for many years. Work on this Grade I listed concrete heritage building are now underway, and are expected to be finished late 2020. 

The new Centre will house collections that represent the cultural heritage, history and creative spirit of peoples in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania and the United Kingdom, including the Cambridge region. They have tremendous cultural significance to communities locally and around the world, and MAA is committed to addressing and exploring their histories and making them available to the widest possible audience. The Project Team’s work to document and digitize the collections in advance of the move reflects MAA’s commitment to increase and diversify access to collections and to decolonise knowledge and collections care throughout the institution.

We are now recruiting the first members of our project team and hope to begin work on the ambitious and challenging move project early in 2020. More updates, and details of job vacancies and other opportunities to get involved, will appear on our website and social media as the project proceeds.

Wish us luck!