One man’s quest to create a library of everything, 500 years before Google Books was conceived, foreshadowed the challenges of ‘big data’ and our reliance on search algorithms to make sense of it all.
Things structure our lives. They enrich us, embellish us and express our hopes and fears. Here, to introduce a month-long focus on research on material culture, four academics from different disciplines explain why understanding how we interact with our material world can reveal unparalleled insights into what it is to be human.
Every object in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology tells not just one but many stories. The Museum’s collections chronicle two million years of human history, revealing the diversity of human life over millennia and the ongoing dynamism of world cultures in the present. Many individual artefacts reflect histories and cultures that are contested.
The journals and scrapbooks of Pierre de L’Estoile have for generations provided a vivid picture of France in a time of religious upheaval. Now Cambridge historian Tom Hamilton has written the first book devoted to the life of L’Estoile as a diarist, collector and man about town.
Cambridge’s reputation as a centre of excellence for museums and culture in the UK received a vital boost today when Arts Council England (ACE) awarded University of Cambridge Museums (UCM) more than £4.8m and National Portfolio Organisation status from 2018-2022.
Why does one of the world’s great research libraries have ‘ectoplasm’, a spirit trumpet and beard hair posted to Charles Darwin among its eight million books, manuscripts and digital collections?
A generous award will allow King’s College to catalogue and conserve an important part of an outstanding collection of rare books given to the College by George Thackeray, a former Provost. Behind the Thackeray Collection lies an intriguing and tragic personal story.
Our lives are bound up with objects. Museums are evidence of our deep preoccupation with the things that surround us, whether natural or the product of human endeavour. Why do we keep stuff, what do we learn from it – and what does our fascination for objects from our past tell us about being human today?