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Curious Objects

In 1743 George Townshend presented a mummy to the University of Cambridge. It was received with excitement by the Principal Librarian, Conyers Middleton, and became something of a tourist attraction. It is one of the more unusual and unexpected objects in the Library’s history. From an ostrich feather and ectoplasm to an old boot, a boomerang, and beard hair sent to Charles Darwin, these curious objects come from all corners of the world and span every era of human history from the Stone Age to the Space Age.

All have a part to play in telling the story of the University Library in its 600th anniversary year, a story told not through its printed and manuscript treasures, but through a cabinet of curiosities that opens a window onto the nature of collecting, private and institutional. Shabby and beautiful, quirky and controversial, they provoke our curiosity and prompt questions about the nature of the Library—past, present and future.

Watch our teaser trailer for a taste of ‘Curious Objects’. Entry to the exhibition is free to all during opening hours and there’s no need to book, but if you’d like a guided tour with one of the curators, then you can book a free tour online.

Behind the scenes