Cambridgeshire

Cambridge University's Fitzwilliam Museum marks 200 years

Fitzwilliam Museum Image copyright Cambridge University
Image caption George Basevi won an architectural competition in 1834 to house the collection - although the current museum is now twice the original size

A fine art and antiquities museum founded by a "bibliophile and art collector" marks its 200th anniversary in 2016.

Viscount Fitzwilliam left his art and library - with £100,000 (about £74m today) to house them - to Cambridge University in 1816, and this was used to set up the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Image copyright The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Image caption Viscount Fitzwilliam studied at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and was different from other Grand Tour collectors in that he was also interested in music
Image copyright The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Image caption His bequest not only included masterpieces by Titian and Veronese and 130 medieval manuscripts - it also included musical scores autographed by Handel and Purcell
Image copyright The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Image caption When its premises on Trumpington Road opened in 1848, only "respectably dressed" members of the public were allowed in, while by 1869 babies and nursery maids with toddlers were banned
Image copyright The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Image caption Its 13 directors have included the ghost story writer MR James, who was also an academic who specialised in medieval manuscripts
Image copyright The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Image caption His successor Sir Sidney Cockerell amassed treasures for the museum including Pre-Raphaelite art and Oriental ceramics. He also claimed he transformed the Fitzwilliam from "pigsty" to "palace". This work, The Bridesmaid by John Everett Millais, was given to the museum in 1889
Image copyright Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Image caption The museum's extensive Chinese collection attracted thieves in 2012, who broke in and smashed a display case with a disc cutter. Eighteen mostly jade items have still to be recovered but a gang of four thieves was jailed for the crime
Image copyright Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Image caption The Fitzwilliam's collections have expanded since the viscount's day to include Japanese art and Egyptian artefacts. A timeline of its first 200 years will open on 4 February

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