Curious Objects

In 1743 George Townshend presented a mummy to the University of Cambridge. It was received with excitement by the Principal Librarian, Conyers Middleton, and became something of a tourist attraction. It is one of the more unusual and unexpected objects in the Library's history. From an ostrich feather and ectoplasm to an old boot, a boomerang, and beard hair sent to Charles Darwin, these curious objects come from all corners of the world and span every era of human history from the Stone Age to the Space Age. 

All have a part to play in telling the story of the University Library in its 600th anniversary year, a story not told through its printed and manuscript treasures, but through a cabinet of curiosities that opens a window onto the nature of collecting, private and institutional. Shabby and beautiful, quirky and controversial, they provoke our curiosity and prompt questions about the nature of the Library - past, present and future. 

Voyages of discovery: the Commonwealth forms a part of the Curious Objects exhibition and contains items from the Royal Commonwealth Society's collection including an ostrich feather from the crown of Cetshwayo ka Mpande (ca 1826-1884), King of the Zulu, and the pen with which the Treaty of Ulundi was signed. 

The exhibition is now on display at the Milstein Exhibition Centre until 21 March 2017 and can also be viewed online

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