The Fitzwilliam Museum is the principal museum of the University of Cambridge. Its core purpose is to safeguard the collections, to make them accessible for study and enjoyment and to preserve them for future generations. The  Museum owes its foundation to Richard, VIIth Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion. In 1816 he bequeathed to the University of Cambridge his works of art and library, together with funds to house them, to further “the Increase of Learning and other great Objects of that Noble Foundation”. For nearly two centuries, the Fitzwilliam Museum’s collections and buildings have grown as a result of successive benefactions.

Already offering a regular programme of talks and tours for blind and partially sighted visitors, there will also be a trial of ‘touch’ tours and descriptive tours, giving an introduction to the Fitzwilliam Museum and its collections. Visitors will be introduced to a range of objects from the collection and explore ideas, techniques and art-historical context through direct handling and conversation, or through description and discussion.

Tours are FREE but booking is essential. The next tour dates are:

Touch tour: Tuesday 14th April from 14.30-15.30

Descriptive tours: Wednesdays 25th March & Wednesday 22nd April 14.30-15.30

 

large print Information

Their regular information pack is available on request, including large print and tactile floor plan diagrams. Please contact fitzmuseum-access@lists.cam.ac.uk with your specific needs.

Getting to the museum

The Fitzwilliam Museum is 10 minutes walk from the city centre on Trumpington Street and has a bus stop directly outside the Courtyard entrance to the museum, serviced by the Citi 4 from Madingley Road Park and Ride and Addenbrookes Hospital.

The museum is a 20 minute (approx.) walk from Cambridge Train Station, with taxis and frequent bus services to the city centre.

The nearest car park is at Lion Yard, off Pembroke Street. Limited Pay and Display and disabled badge holder parking is available on Trumpington Street.

History of the Collections

Fitzwilliam’s bequest included 144 pictures, among them Dutch paintings he inherited through his maternal grandfather and the masterpieces by Titian, Veronese and Palma Vecchio he acquired at the Orléans sales in London. During a lifetime of collecting, he filled more than 500 folio albums with engravings, to form what has been described as “a vast assembly of prints by the most celebrated engravers, with a series of Rembrandt’s etchings unsurpassed in England at that time”. His library included 130 medieval manuscripts and a collection of autograph music by Handel, Purcell and other composers which has guaranteed the Museum a place of prominence among the music libraries of the world.

Few museums in the world contain on a single site collections of such variety and depth. Writing in his Foreword to the catalogue of the exhibition for Treasures from the Fitzwilliam which toured the United States in 1989-90, the then Director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, wrote that “like the British Museum, the Fitzwilliam addresses the history of culture in terms of the visual forms it has assumed, but it does so from the highly selective point of view of the collector connoisseur. Works of art have been taken into the collection not only for the historical information they reveal, but for their beauty, excellent quality, and rarity… It is a widely held opinion that the Fitzwilliam is the finest small museum in Europe”.