Exploring the Sedgewick Museum

Ornamental stone bearThere must be an unwritten rule somewhere that all Natural History Museums *must* be  architecturally stunning.I’m constantly and consistently blown away by all the detailed wonder of London’s Natural History Museum. The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is also a sight to behold (check out that roof!).

Although not quite in the same awe-inspiring league as those cathedrals of learning, the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge is still really pretty to look at. Just look at this bear on the stairs as you walk up to the entrance.

Iguanodon at the Sedgwick Museum
Iguanodon at the Sedgwick Museum


I think there must be another rules that states that all museums that deal with natural history (or earth science as the Sedgwick designates its collection) must also have a large dinosaur in their entrance hall. Think of NHM’s Dippy the Diplodicus  or the large Tyrannosaurus Rex greeting you over in Oxford.

Here, an Iguanodon welcomes you to the museum.

Although stone bears and dinosaurs are lovely… they weren’t the inspiration for my visit.

Whilst doing some research for my little trip to Cambridge I discovered that  the Sedgwick held objects that once belonged to famed natural scientist, evolutionary theorist, and owner of splendid beard, Charles Darwin.

I believe my exact words were “Oooh Darwin stuff.”

It transpires that before he was investigating the origins of species, he was looking at rocks (and before that, if you can believe it he was studying to be a clergyman!). Fun Fact: he picked up the unfortunate nickname of Gas thanks to an interest in Chemistry. Amongst the Darwinian objects in the museum was his notebook, with actual handwritten notes.

Charles Darwin's notebook.
Charles Darwin’s notebook.

There’s something about handwriting that I’m really drawn to, I suppose because like snowflakes and fingerprints, it can be very pretty. Also, no two are exactly alike.

The Darwin collection was really interesting but every now and then the words “he would have used something like this…” appeared. I appreciate that these kinds of things give a fuller picture, but to me it feels a bit inauthentic to have “something like…” mixed in with things actually used. You know?

As you might expect, I came away knowing much more about Darwin, but the museum also taught me that woolly rhinos were an actual thing and that Trigonal is “the kitchen sink” of the mineral world (I’m still not entirely sure what that means either…). It’s nice to learn new things.


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