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Collection Highlights

In terms of chronology, geography, material, genre and scale, the Fitzwilliam Museum’s collection of sculpture is very broad-ranging. Objects date from several millennia B.C. to the present, and were made in centres across Europe, Asia, and North Africa, for a range of settings and purposes. The collection has been built up in a rather piece-meal fashion since the Museum’s foundation in 1816, with many key pieces acquired through bequests and gifts, and is split between the Departments of Antiquities and Applied Arts. The Antiquities Department has over 200 pieces of sculpture, mainly marble, ranging from early Cycladic figurines to Greek and Roman funerary monuments (grave markers, coffins, cinerary urns), votive reliefs, free-standing figures of gods and heroes and portraits of Roman emperors. The Applied Arts Department’s collection of post-Classical Western European sculpture is eclectic and wide-ranging: from Byzantine and early Medieval ivories and wood sculpture, to Renaissance bronzes, 17th- and 18th-century terracotta models and monumental Baroque marbles. It has important 19th-century holdings by Degas and Rodin, 20th-century works by Epstein, Moore and Hepworth as well as pieces by contemporary makers. 

The department also looks after a large amount of Far Eastern material, including substantial collections of Chinese jades and Japanese netsuke, and a large number of plaster casts.



  • Michelangelo – A Discovery

    Unsigned and undocumented, yet evidently by a great Renaissance master, the Rothschild bronzes were loaned to the Fitzwilliam Museum from summer 2014 until autumn 2015 and became the centre of a major international, interdisciplinary research project led by Dr Victoria Avery (Keeper, Applied Arts) and Professor Paul Joannides (Emeritus Professor of Art History, University of Cambridge). Visual analysis and circumstantial evidence have permitted the Principal Investigators to propose that they are early works by Michelangelo, datable to c. 1506-08.  A multi-authored volume on the Rothschild bronzes is currently being prepared for publication (spring 2017). 

Online Exhibitions

  • Fitzwilliam Sculpture Promenade 2009

    The inaugural annual exhibition of sculpture on the Museum lawns, creating a dynamic new focus for contemporary art in Cambridge, featuring work by members of the Royal British Society of Sculptors: David Begbie, Wu Wei-shan, Johannes von Stumm, Richard Fenton, Charles Hadcock, Diane Maclean, Terry New and Andrew Stonyer.