Cambridge is a city where living, breathing history is all around you, but it has many not-to-be-missed museums as well. Check out our dedicated page about the daddy of them all, the Fitzwilliam Museum, which houses Cambridge University’s collections of arts and antiquities.
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
The Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge
If it's the history of Cambridge itself that you're more interested in, then head for the Museum of Cambridge on Castle Street. This adorable little museum is spread over three floors of a 17th-century coaching inn. Previously known as the Cambridge and County Folk Museum, there are nine themed rooms to explore – each portraying the intriguing lives of the people who have lived in Cambridge and the surrounding area going back to the 1660s.
There's a dining parlour, a room dedicated to the Fens, a Victorian childhood room and playroom in the attic – the latter two are always a favourite with younger visitors! In fact, it's great for kids all round – they even have a chance to try their hand at running a sweet shop.
There are plenty of oddball exhibits on show and tall tales to be told. How about seeing the boot of a local giant or learning about the woman who lived for a whole month in a cave of snow?
The many facets of science and academia are also very well represented in Cambridge’s museums – there’s something for everyone, whatever your interest. Take the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, for example. It's a wonderful, small museum packed with curiosities and well worth spending an absorbing hour or two in. Admission is free but it can be a bit tricky to find as it's tucked away in Free School Lane with a fairly well-hidden entrance.
The Whipple was founded in 1944 and covers all branches of science. Its extensive collection of old scientific instruments, such as astrolabes, microscopes and calculators dating back to the 16th century, offers a fascinating glimpse into the challenges faced by scientists of a bygone age.
For truly ancient history, don't miss the Museum of Classic Archaeology, a hidden gem which houses impressive plaster casts of great classical sculptures, such as the Venus de Milo. Make sure you also spare some time for the Sedgwick Museum of Geology, which is a must for any children interested in dinosaurs. It has superb displays of fossils, minerals and rocks, not to mention some impressive skeletons.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Centre for Computing History brings things right up to date. A pleasingly hands-on museum with lots of interactive elements, its displays of computers and games consoles are from as far back as the early 1960s. There's a chance to experience the basic programming requirements of early home computers and games such as Pong and Pokémon. It’s enough to provoke nostalgia in visitors of a certain age and open-mouthed astonishment among their offspring.