One of Cambridge’s more unique arty offerings is the David Parr House, a residential home on Gwydir Street which offers a portal into Arts & Crafts era design. The former owner, a working class Victorian decorative artist, modelled his own home on the grand interiors he’d see in his day job, creating perfectly painted, painstakingly intricate walls which demonstrate incredible craftsmanship. Another once residential home which showcases the former owner’s love of art is Kettle’s Yard on Castle Street, which displays the collection amassed by curator Jim Ede throughout the 20th century. Ede was passionate about bringing art to the everyday, positioning pieces from famous artists alongside stones, feathers, glass and other materials he found on his travels, to create a harmonious whole. The adjoining gallery also hosts big name exhibitions from contemporary artists throughout the year. Championing artistic experimentation and innovation from a sleepy corner of the Cambridgeshire countryside is Wysing Arts Centre – a hub of contemporary art which is both a working studio and gallery. The annual music festival offers a perfect chance to have a look around and see what the artists have been up to. Others not to miss are the New Hall Art Collection – home to an impressive permanent collection of art by leading female artists – and Downing College’s Heong Gallery, a bright and welcoming space for modern and contemporary art.
Cambridge University Museums
The University of Cambridge has eight museums in total, which together hold more than five million artefacts, specimens and works of art. The jewel in the crown is The Fitzwilliam (Trumpington Street), the city’s grandest museum, which houses around half a million pieces from around the world, from Renaissance sculptures to Egyptian coffins. At the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Downing Street), you can explore two-million years of human history, from Samurai armour to 500-year-old potatoes, while The Museum of Classical Archaeology (Sidgwick Avenue) gives visitors a chance to walk among iconic sculptures from classical antiquity. The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences (Downing Street), meanwhile, invites you to journey through 4.4 billion years, discovering meteorites, fossils and plants that tell the story of evolution. Also shining a spotlight on evolution is the Museum of Zoology (Downing Place), where you can marvel at the stunning diversity of the animal kingdom, from manatees to mammoths – and see one of the most complete dodo skeletons. A hidden gem sometimes missed by visitors is Whipple Museum of the History of Science (Free School Lane), which offers a fascinating foray into scientific instruments through history – and how they’ve helped scientists understand the world around us. Completing the collection are The Polar Museum(Lensfield Road), where you can deep-dive into Antarctic adventures, Kettle’s Yard, and the Botanic Garden, a treasure trove of more than 8,000 plant species.
For an exploration of the town, rather than gown, side of life in the city, check out the Museum of Cambridge on Castle Street. Dedicated to sharing the stories and belongings of everyday people who’ve called Cambridge home, it offers a glimpse into the social history of the area. Around 25-minutes outside of the city, IWM Duxford is an unmissable treat for anybody interested in aviation. As well as hundreds of aircraft and military vehicles, there are regular flying displays to enjoy, as well as exhibitions and family activities.