Fitzwilliam Museum

Fitzwilliam Museum
FitzwilliamMuseum.jpg
The primary entrance to the Fitzwilliam Museum
Fitzwilliam Museum is located in Central Cambridge
Fitzwilliam Museum
Location in Cambridge
Established1816, by Richard FitzWilliam, 7th Viscount FitzWilliam
LocationCambridge, England
Coordinates52°12′01″N 0°07′10″E / 52°12′01″N 0°07′10″E / 52.200278; 0.119444
University of Cambridge Museums
Saint Geminianus, from a pentaptych by Simone Martini (c.1284–1344)

The Fitzwilliam Museum is the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge. It is located on Trumpington Street opposite Fitzwilliam Street in central Cambridge. Founded in 1816, the Fitzwilliam Museum includes one of the best collections of antiquities and modern art in western Europe.[2][3] With over half a million objects and artworks in its collections, the displays in the Museum explore world history and art from antiquity to the present.[2] The treasures of the museum include artworks by Monet, Picasso, Rubens, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Van Dyck, and Canaletto, as well as a winged bas-relief from Nimrud.[4] Admission to the public is always free.[5]

The museum is a partner in the University of Cambridge Museums consortium, one of 16 Major Partner Museum services funded by Arts Council England to lead the development of the museums sector.[6]

Foundation and buildings

View of one of the museum's entrance halls

The museum was founded in 1816 with the legacy of the library and art collection of Richard FitzWilliam, 7th Viscount FitzWilliam. The bequest included £100,000 "to cause to be erected a good substantial museum repository". The Fitzwilliam now contains over 500,000 items and is one of the best museums in the United Kingdom.[2] The collection was initially placed in the Perse School building in Free School Lane. It was moved in 1842 to the Old Schools in central Cambridge, which housed the Cambridge University Library.

The "Founder's Building" was built during the period 1837-1843 to the designs of George Basevi, completed by C. R. Cockerell. The foundation stone of the new building was laid by Gilbert Ainslie in 1837. The museum opened in 1848. The Palladian Entrance Hall, by Edward Middleton Barry, was completed in 1875. A further large bequest was made to the University in 1912 by Charles Brinsley Marlay, including £80,000 and 84 paintings from his private collection. A two-storey extension to the south-east, paid for partly by the Courtauld family, was added in 1931, greatly expanding the space of the museum and allowing research teams to work on site.[7]

The museum buildings and, separately, the boundary along the street frontage, are Grade I listed.[8]