Understanding how we interact with our material world can reveal unparalleled insights into what it is to be human.

The lady of the longitude

30 Nov 2014

In 1714, the British Parliament offered large rewards for finding longitude at sea. Men around the world submitted schemes but only one woman, Jane...

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The evolution of Darwin’s Origin: Cambridge releases 12,000 papers online

24 Nov 2014

The origins of Darwin’s theory of evolution – including the pages where he first coins and commits to paper the term ‘natural selection’ – are being...

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Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) and the books that made the father of anatomy

17 Jul 2014

Born 500 years ago, Andreas Vesalius has iconic status in the history of science. Cambridge University Library holds several copies of the remarkable...

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What William Courten bought on 9 June 1698: 1 young Pelican, 2 Land Tortoises and a cap of seafowles skin

09 Jun 2014

A remarkable archive records the purchases made by William Courten (1642–1702) whose museum was praised by visitors as a noble collection of...

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Skulls in print: scientific racism in the transatlantic world

19 Mar 2014

A PhD student’s research at Cambridge’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science has revealed how racist ideas and images circulated between...

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We ask the experts: why do we put things into museums?

26 Nov 2013

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...

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The importance of university museums

22 Nov 2013

University of Cambridge museums are among those highlighted as examples of best practice in a new report focusing on the outstanding contributions...

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Darwin’s women

09 Sep 2013

On matters of gender, Charles Darwin was supposedly an arch-conservative - but new research suggests that he actively helped women who were striving...

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The first book of fashion

01 May 2013

Fashion conveys complex messages. The recreation of an outfit taken from one of an extraordinary series of Renaissance portraits reveals how one man...

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Globe c. 1907

The world inside a Spanish globe

28 Dec 2012

Study of a mysterious 100-year-old interactive toy – perhaps the Wikipedia of its day – is painting a vivid picture of Spain’s path into the modern...

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From fleece to the fibre of local identity: the man in the foreground wears a traditional Fair Isle jumper for working with sheep

Making the cloth that binds us: spinning, weaving and island identity

10 Nov 2012

Ben Cartwright, a member of Cambridge’s Material Culture Lab, is an archaeologist whose research focuses on the ways in which the crafts of spinning...

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Detail from the Ripley Scroll housed at the Fitzwilliam Museum

Body, soul and gold: quests for perfection in English alchemy

08 Nov 2012

From the elixirs of legend to transmutation of base metals into gold, medieval medical practice and social mobility were steeped in alchemy.

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