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Current projects

A History of the Fitzwilliam Museum

To mark the Fitzwilliam Museum’s bicentenary, the Museum commissioned research into its own history, hitherto no more than cursorily treated in the prefaces to general Museum books or catalogues. The research involved in-depth investigation and assimilation of the contents of the Museum’s own archive, besides documents preserved in the archives of the University and national and regional archives. 

The principal output of this project has been Lucilla Burn’s publication, The Fitzwilliam Museum: a History

Ancient Egyptian Coffins

This project takes an integrated look at both the iconography and structure of Ancient Egyptian coffins, drawing together curatorial, conservation and scientific research, and experimental archaeology. This approach will result in a more complete history of each object. 

Cambridge Illuminations Research Project

Researching the nearly 4000 illuminated manuscripts and incunabula preserved at the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge Colleges, this project is internationally recognised for unearthing new evidence about manuscript production, patronage and use.

Degas: A Passion for Perfection

Degas’s pursuit of the mastery of his creative means is evident in his relentless experimentation with technical procedures throughout his long career. This exhibition draws on the extensive but still little-known collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum to examine Degas’s practice and processes in the wide range of media in which he worked. 

Designers and Jewellery 1850-1940: Jewellery and Metalwork from the Fitzwilliam Museum

This project will result in a beautifully-illustrated publication that will explore the Museum’s rarely-seen and exceptional collection of jewellery and metalwork, dating from 1850 to 1950. Focusing on individual designers, and often reproducing the original designs for the Museum’s objects, this book will act as a guide to the variety of styles that evolved during this dynamic period.

Early Medieval Corpus Single Finds of Coins in the British Isles, 410-1180

A project to gather together into a single database all of the single finds of coins minted 410-1180 found in the British Isles.

Learning research

The Learning Department run a number of exciting projects and programmes with different audiences which you can find our more about by following the links on the right hand side of the page.

Material Cultures in Public Engagement

Supported by the TOPOI Excellence Cluster.

Medieval European Coinage

Medieval European Coinage is a major international work of reference for medieval numismatists, archaeologists and historians. The series of some 20 volumes, published by Cambridge University Press, will cover the coinage of Europe c. 450 to c. 1500, region by region. The MEC Project is producing the first comprehensive survey of European medieval coinages since the Traité de numismatique du moyen âge of Engel and Serrure (3 vols, 1891-1905). Each volume of MEC provides an authoritative, up-to-date account of the coinage of an area, written by experts in the field. The text is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue of the coins in the unrivalled collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, largely formed by Professor Philip Grierson. 

Michelangelo – A Discovery

Unsigned and undocumented, yet evidently by a great Renaissance master, the Rothschild bronzes were loaned to the Fitzwilliam Museum from summer 2014 until autumn 2015 and became the centre of a major international, interdisciplinary research project led by Dr Victoria Avery (Keeper, Applied Arts) and Professor Paul Joannides (Emeritus Professor of Art History, University of Cambridge). Visual analysis and circumstantial evidence have permitted the Principal Investigators to propose that they are early works by Michelangelo, datable to c. 1506-08.  A multi-authored volume on the Rothschild bronzes is currently being prepared for publication (spring 2017). 

MINIARE: Manuscript Illumination: Non-Invasive Analysis, Research and Expertise

This project is transforming our understanding of medieval painting by using non-invasive analytical methods to identify the materials and techniques in illuminated manuscripts. 

Re-approaching Ancient Cyprus

A re-contextualisation and redisplay of the Fitzwilliam Museum’s collections of Ancient Cypriot artefacts to reflect the close affinities of the island of Cyprus with its neighbours, particularly the Aegean, Near Eastern and North African cultures, across time.  The project will also bring to light the fundamental role the island has played in trade across the Mediterranean region, as well as the way its insularity has shaped a unique cultural identity, allowing indigenous cultural forms to be preserved and transmitted whilst new ideas and external influences   are simultaneously assimilated.  Supported by the A. G. Leventis Foundation.

Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles

The British Sylloge project was first promoted in the early 1950s by Christopher Blunt and other members of the British and Royal Numismatic Societies. An informal committee was formed under the chairmanship of Sir Frank Stenton, who in 1956 secured its admission as a Committee of the British Academy. The first volume, on Anglo-Saxon coins in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, was published by the British Academy in 1958; almost 70 further volumes have since been published, covering more than two hundred national, university and provincial museums, as well as select private collections, in Britain and Ireland and of museums in Scandinavia, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and the United States of America.

The Glynn Collection of Parian Ware

The Fitzwilliam Museum has recently been allocated the David Glynn collection of English parian ware statuary, totalling 360 pieces. Parian, a type of bisque porcelain imitating pure white marble from Paros in Greece, was invented in around 1845, and had the advantage over marble in being cheaper and easier to mass reproduce.  In collaboration with the Department of Art History at Birmingham University, the Fitzwilliam will be seeking funding to document and research this collection of national significance. Planned outcomes include a conference and a publication examining the manufacturing processes and social context of 19th-century parian ware, as well as the creation of a teaching collection.

‘To be Treasured for a Thousand Years’: Chinese Bronzes at the Fitzwilliam Museum

This project is cataloguing and researching the Fitzwilliam Museum’s collection of Chinese bronzes, examining how the objects were cast and used, as well as their cultural influences.

Projects by Department

Department