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Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences



The palaeontological collection can be traced back to the activities of Adam Sedgwick, appointed 7th Woodwardian Professor in 1818. Sedgwick set out to develop a comprehensive geological reference collection and establish a dedicated geological Museum in Cambridge (which opened in the Cockerell Building in about 1842). Initially based on the specimens collected during the field excursions of Sedgwick and Prof. John Stevens Henslow amongst others the collection was expanded through the purchase of significant objects (e.g. Sedgwick’s ‘Giant Elk’ and ‘Whitby Plesiosaur’) and collections (e.g. Münster Collection c. 1839). The collection has also benefited from the local exploitation of mineral resources, in particular brick manufacture (Oxford and Kimmeridge Clay fossils), phosphate mineral extraction and cement manufacture (Neolithic-Bronze Age peat, Cam river gravel and Cambridge Greensand fossils).

The collection currently comprises well over a million individual specimens, is taxonomically comprehensive and international in scope. The collection includes a large number of type (over 9,000 primary types), figured and cited specimens (over 16,000 each) and other scientifically and historically important material. In Britain it ranks in scope and size, second only to the palaeontological collection of the Natural History Museum. It supports palaeontological and biostratigraphical research on an international scale. The collection continues to grow through the research efforts of the academic staff and research students of the Department of Earth Sciences and through deposit via the Regional Collections Centre Scheme.

To enquire about this collection please contact us.

Museum Opening Times

Monday - Friday: 10am - 5pm

Saturday: 10am - 4pm

Sunday: Closed

Admission Free

No booking required (except groups)