House, galleries, café and shop:
Wednesday: 11am – 5pm
Thursday: 11am – 5pm
Friday: 11am – 5pm
Saturday: 11am – 5pm
Sunday: 11am – 5pm
+44 (0)1223 748 100
From the ancient to the contemporary – whether in a museum, book or auction house – the way we engage with art has revolved around the cult of the individual. But what happens when we don’t know who made something?
Artist: Unknown took this question as its focus. It brought together for the first time an extraordinary selection of anonymous art and artefacts from the University of Cambridge’s renowned museums and collections.
With objects spanning centuries and continents, the exhibition wove together often hidden histories of artistic production, collection, marginalisation and colonialism, and explored why these makers’ identities were unrecorded or lost to history. From a mysterious seventeenth-century self-portrait to modern Inuit stone carvings, intricately embroidered samplers and elaborate forgeries of scientific instruments, each object bore witness to the creativity and skill of its unknown maker and invited viewers to question the importance we place on authorship, and to rethink who we define as an ‘artist’.
Artist: Unknown included objects from:
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Museum of Classical Archaeology
The Fitzwilliam Museum
Cambridge University Herbarium
The Polar Museum
Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
Whipple Museum of the History of Science
Cambridge University Library
Museum of Zoology
Carved and painted wooden head, Southern Nigeria, Height 38 cm. Collected by Northcote W. Thomas, 1910, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Z 25889
Astrolabe, gilt copper, purportedly by Johannes Bos of Rome, dated 1597, but now identified as a modern fake, c.1920, 100mm diameter, Whipple Museum of the History of Science
‘Musalman Zumeendar’, Trichinopoly (Tiruchirappalli), India, 1869, paint on mica, c. 150 x 105 mm. Reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library, RCMS 352
The gallery on the ground floor is fully accessible. It can be accessed easily from the entrance area by steps or a ramp.
There are large print gallery guides available at the information desk just inside the front door.
Gallery, shop and café:
Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm
Tuesday – Sunday 12 – 5pm