I’ve been visiting Cambridge again. After visiting a few of the museums on my adventures at the end of last year and being treated to the wonderful exhibition at Two Temple Place earlier this year, I was itching to get back. Also I’ve only been to three of the nine University of Cambridge museums and you know, you gotta catch ’em all..
Luckily, it turns out that Brighton-Cambridge isn’t that bad of a journey.
My first stop on this Adventure was the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (whose name can be easily confused with the wonderful Museum of Classical Archaeology). The MAA, as it is known, really reminded me of both London’s Horniman Museum and Oxford’s Pitt-Rivers Museum, but it had a completely different vibe.
The MAA feels all shiny and new, but the upper galleries retain that cabinet of curiosity feel that all anthropology museums have. It was a nice comniation of shiny-newness and the curious cabinetiness of the place.
Like all anthropological collections, the museum had some brilliantly bonkers stuff on display. This little chappy for instance…
Or this guy…
Although the highlight was learning about this remarkable woman:
50 is a remarkable age for a woman of this era, it’s practically ancient. If you look closely you can see an abscess on the left hand side of the jar (which probably contributed to her death). This skeleton also has a literary connection: the poet Sylvia Plath studied at Cambridge and her poem All the Dead Dears was inspired by her encountered with the bones, especially this part
“Rigged poker-stiff on her back
With a granite grin
This antique museum-cased lady
Lies, companioned by the gimcrack
Relics of a mouse and shrew.”
What’s that about a mouse and shrew?
Museum storage is always a really interesting topic. Some places, like the Horniman Museum, offer tours of these oft closed spaces but the MAA has something called Visible Storage – where the storage is, erm, visible. It is a really interesting touch.
There’s even this Baratheon-tastic helmet on show.
Here’s one more picture of the museum, because, why not?