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Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology





Discoveries: Art, Scienceand Exploration, the interior of Two Temple Place. Photography Martin Gardner.



Presenting singular objects and unearthing little-known treasures in the extraordinary interiors of Two Temple Place on London’s Embankment, Discoveries is the first major exhibition to bring together the fascinating collections from all eight University of Cambridge Museums.

The exhibition challenges and responds to the very notion of ‘discovery’, displaying objects that span millennia; from artworks to scientific artefacts, historic instruments to rare zoological specimens. It is about imagination and knowledge, the pleasures of looking and the power of objects to generate wonder as well as new ideas.

The University of Cambridge has long been at the forefront of learning, invention, exploration and discovery across the arts and the sciences. The University of Cambridge Museums have grown alongside this research and teaching, founded and developed by scholars and collectors to house their collections of objects and works. This exhibition continues Two Temple Place’s series of annual winter exhibitions showcasing collections from outside central London. The exhibition is complemented by a programme of events including performing arts, workshops, talks, guided tours and a range of children’s activities.




Sufi-Islam Snakes and Ladders Board, wood inlaid with mother of pearl. India. 19th century. MAA 1951.995



The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology have contributed significantly to the exhibition with objects, conservation work and our Director, Professor Nicholas Thomas has co-curated the exhibition with Martin Caiger-Smith (curatorial advisor to Two Temple Place and Head of MA Programme: Curating the Art Museum at Courtauld Institute of Art) with the University of Cambridge Museums Programme Curator, Dr Lydia Hamlett.

Professor Thomas says of the exhibition, “An exhibition of this scope and nature could only come from Cambridge. Our collections are exceptionally rich, but also unusual and even quirky. For over two hundred years our museums have accumulated every imaginable kind of artefact, art work, device and specimen. Discoveries takes us from Darwin to DNA; from Captain Scott to the exploration of space.”




Discoveries: Art, Science and Exploration, the interior of Two Temple Place. Photography Martin Gardner.



Read a review of the exhibition in The Guardian.



Event location: 

Two Temple Place, London

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