A weekend of discovery will unfold in Cambridge from 13 to 15 September as a host of places open their doors to the public for Open Cambridge, an initiative that celebrates the riches to be explored on our doorstep. 

Open Cambridge is now part of the calendar for many people interested in learning more about the city they live or work in.

Sue Long, Open Cambridge

Now in its sixth year, the Open Cambridge programme has more to offer than ever with talks and tours of some of the city’s most famous sites as well as some of its best kept secrets.  Organiser Sue Long said: “Open Cambridge is now part of the calendar for many people interested in learning more about the city they live or work in.  Each year we hope to welcome new groups.”

Booking for Open Cambridge’s more than 56 events will open on Monday 19 August and, as in previous years, it’s likely that places for tours and talks with limited numbers will book up fast. “Do book quickly if there’s something you really want to do or see,” said Ms Long. “But we do ask that people let us know if they find they can’t come to an event they’ve booked as then we can give that place to someone on our waiting list.”

All events are free, many are family friendly, and if you are unsure of your schedule that weekend a good number are run on an informal drop-in basis – including a chance to visit the Whipple Library of History and Philosophy of Science in one of the city’s oldest streets and Cambridge American Cemetery just outside the city perimeter. 

On the programme for the first time are: a chance to visit the mosque in Mawson Road for guided tours and Q&A sessions; the opportunity to meet Peter Hein, Head Butler at Peterhouse;  an invitation to explore the brand new University of Cambridge Sports Centre, a facility designed by world famous practice, Arup Associates; and a cycling tour of Cambridge following a 16th century map.

A dip into the archives is always fascinating. On 13 September a talk at the Central Library will give visitors an introduction into the many treasures of the Cambridgeshire Collection, which include a copy of a Cambridge newspaper that dates from the US Declaration of Independence and the first map of Cambridge from 1574. There will also be a chance to look behind the scenes at the Collection’s store which houses 90,000 books and journals as well as 4.5 million photos.

King’s College Library is celebrating the anniversaries of three pioneers of the arts - Jane Austen, EM Forster and Benjamin Britten – with an exhibition of related objects chosen from its special collections.  Other college libraries open to the public include: Queens’ College Old Library, Christ’s College Library, Lucy Cavendish Library, and the Parker Library at Corpus Christi.

Open to visitors on pre-booked tours is that brooding powerhouse of learning, Cambridge University Library.  Designed by Giles Gilbert Scott in the 1930s, it continues to expand to house its growing collections which are used by scholars from around the world.

History forms a central strand of the Open Cambridge, whether it’s the unfolding story of shopping or the emergence of a new technology.  A tour of Cambridge University Press Museum will take visitors back to the early days of printing through displays that include a bible printed in 1638 and a selection of specialist tools. Director of Cambridge University Press, Kevin Taylor is giving a talk on the history of the Press.

The grand finale of the Open Cambridge weekend is the Bridge the Gap charity walk which takes participants on a five-mile route around Cambridge, visiting nine colleges and the Polar Museum on the way. Last year the family-friendly and wheelchair-accessible walk raised £45,000 for Arthur Rank House and Press Relief.  This year’s target is £50,000.

For full details of the programme and to make booking go to www.cam.ac.uk/opencambridge or phone 01223 766766

For more information about this story contact Alex Buxton, Office of Communications, University of Cambridge, amb206@admin.cam.ac.uk 01223 761673

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