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Fitzwilliam Bicentenary

The Fitzwilliam Museum Bicentenary

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is holding a full year of festivities. Major exhibitions will explore two of its most cherished collections, ancient Egyptian coffins and one of the world's finest collections of illuminated manuscripts.   It is also publishing a new illustrated history of the Museum, with an accompanying exhibition.

Today the Fitzwilliam is one of the world’s finest museums.  A neo-classical temple of the arts, its white stone façade and columns are an iconic part of the Cambridge skyline. Its grand galleries house over half a million artefacts and master works of art from antiquity to the present day. Part of the University of Cambridge, it is a leading centre for art historical research and conservation, working with partner organisations across the world.

The Bicentennial book for 2016, The Fitzwilliam Museum: a History, will, for the first time, tell the full 200 year story of the Museum. This includes the triumphs and challenges of successive Directors, the changing nature of the Museum’s relationship with its parent University, and its dogged survival through the two World Wars. It will also shed light on the colourful, but previously little-known, personal life of Viscount Fitzwilliam himself.

Complementing the book will be an Bicentennial exhibition in the Museum’s Octagon Gallery. A time-line of the Fitzwilliam’s first 200 years will introduce key themes, characters and significant objects showing the Museum’s development. Opening on 4 February and running throughout the bicentenary year, this exhibition will explore the Fitzwilliam’s past and present, and lead into its future.

The two major exhibitions of the bicentenary year celebrate two of the richest and most popular of the Museum’s own collections.  These collections both have their origins in the Museum’s first decade.  The collection of Egyptian coffins started with one of the earliest gifts to the Fitzwilliam in 1822.  The manuscripts on show will include exquisite examples from Viscount Fitzwilliam’s founding bequest, which, under its strict terms, may never leave the Museum. Both of these bicentenary exhibitions will present the very latest in conservation science and research which takes place at the Fitzwilliam today.

As part of the celebrations within the year, the Museum are launching My Fitzwilliam, a film project to capture what the Museum means to its thousands of visitors today. The Fitzwillam welcomes contributions from all to celebrate the Museum and they want to hear from you!
If you would like to send your contribution there are three questions to answer:
•           Tell us about your favourite thing in the Museum?
•           Do you have a memory of the Museum to share?
•           What makes the Museum so special?
For more information about how to submit your contribution, see the home page story on the Museum website http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/  Throughout the year, there will be opportunities to contribute to the film at special events including Museums at Night (Friday 13 May) and during Family Art Week (Tuesday 2 to Thursday 4 August).

Major Exhibitions

Death on the Nile

(23 February – 22 May 2016)

COLOUR: The art and science of illuminated manuscripts

(30 July – 30 December 2016) 


Happy Birthday Fitzwilliam – SAVE THE DATE

On Wednesday 10 August from 13.00 to 16.00, we are going to celebrate what would have been the 271st birthday of our Founder, Richard, VII Viscount Fitzwilliam. On a day which will include music, talks and activities for young and old, we will open up our lawns for a summer celebration of 200 years of the Fitzwilliam Museum. Full details of the day will be advertised on the home page of our website from 1 July 2016.

Fitzwilliam Museum Bicentenary Website

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