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The Whipple Museum's collection includes scientific instruments, apparatus, models, pictures, prints, photographs, books and other material related to the history of science. Find our more about the history of our building and the founding of the museum in this section.

The Museum and its collection

The museum's holdings are particularly strong in material dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries, especially objects produced by English instrument makers, although the collection contains objects dating from the medieval period to the present day. Instruments of astronomy, navigation, surveying, drawing and calculating are well represented, as are sundials, mathematical instruments and early electrical apparatus.

The Whipple Museum was founded in 1944 when Robert Stewart Whipple presented his collection of scientific instruments to the University of Cambridge.

Since Robert Whipple's initial gift of the collection, the Museum has come to house many instruments formerly used in the Colleges and Departments of the University of Cambridge. Find out more about these on the Special Collections page.

Read more: explore some of our key themes and collections

Street signage showing directions to the Whipple Museum

Department of History and Philosophy of Science

The Museum forms part of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge. The Department includes a working library with a large collection of early scientific books, some of which were given by Robert Whipple. The Museum plays an important part in the Department's teaching and research.

The Museum's history

The room now housing the Main Gallery of the Museum was built in 1618. Originally it was part of the first Free School in Cambridge and has also been used as an electrical laboratory and a display area for the Fitzwilliam Museum during its history.

Read more: history of the building

Donating to the Museum

The Museum operates on a small budget and relies to a large extent on the generosity of its patrons to support its work. Gifts of all sizes can make a real difference.

Donate online

Opening Times

Please note:

From 21st October, the Museum will be open on Wednesdays and Friday afternoons, for pre-booked visits only.

Tickets are free but must be booked through the University of Cambridge Museums' ticketing system.

Closed bank holidays

Free Entry