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You are in: Online Resources > Online Exhibitions > Friends Exhibition > 1990-2008

A Century of Giving

Section Four: 1990-2008

A 21st century Museum: Simon Jervis & Duncan Robinson

Under the directorships of Simon Jervis (1990-1995) and Duncan Robinson (1995-2008), the Fitzwilliam Museum has recently undergone another great transformation, comparable to that carried out a century ago under Sydney Cockerell.

Photograph of the Fitzwilliam Museum courtyard before redevelopment

External courtyard before redevelopment

Photograph of the Fitzwilliam Museum courtyard after redevelopment

Courtyard with shop and café after redevelopment

The millennium was marked by the launching of the Courtyard Development Appeal. This £12 million capital building project, funded partly by a Heritage Lottery grant, transformed an unused courtyard into a spectacular glazed atrium. The result has been described as 'a triumph of reorganisation'.

Completed in 2004, the Courtyard Development reflects the priorities of a 21st century museum. Aimed at improving facilities and widening access to the collections for both public and staff, it includes space for teaching, storage and workshops, as well as a new exhibition gallery, café, and enlarged shop. A museum website and online database have also been launched to create, and provide public access to, records and images of the collection.

The Friends contributed over £100,000 to the Courtyard Appeal, much of this in the form of individual donations, and their generosity as a body continues unabated.

Terry Frost and Colin Haxby, stoneware jug

Terry Frost (designer)
Colin Haxby (potter)
stoneware jug

Fitzwilliam Museum

Picasso, Dreams and Lies of Franco

Pablo Picasso
Dreams and Lies of Franco

Fitzwilliam Museum

Some significant recent acquisitions include prints by Pablo Picasso and the incomparable Macclesfield Psalter. Meanwhile, gaps in the 20th century ceramic holdings are being filled with help from the Friends' fund. And, as the Museum looks to the future, as well as safeguarding the past, the Friends' fund continues to be used to purchase outstanding works by contemporary artists and designers in all media.

In 2007, Duncan Robinson (now CBE) retired, and Timothy Potts took over as the Museum's 12th Director.

Now designated a museum with outstanding collections, the Fitzwilliam has begun a new phase in its two-hundred year history. This exhibition not only celebrates the generosity of the Friends thus far, but also anticipates the next 'century of giving' which will help maintain its status as a world class museum.


Fitzwilliam Museum Newsletter 2004 [pdf] featuring the completion of the Courtyard Development

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click on images below for information about each exhibit

Meissen campana-shaped vase

Campana-shaped vase
Meissen, c.1815-16

Sebastiano del Piombo, Madonna and Child

Sebastiano del Piombo
Madonna and Child

Italy, 1513

Macclesfield Psalter detail

The Macclesfield Psalter
detail of f.115 (verso)
English, c.1330

Christopher le Brun, The Eye's Castle

Christopher le Brun
The Eye's Castle


Anglo-Saxon coin

Coins from the Cambridge Mint
Anglo-Saxon - Norman

Marc Quinn, pigment print

Marc Quinn

pigment print, 2000

Jila Peacock, 10 Poems from Hafez

Jila Peacock
10 Poems from Hafez


Hellenistic terracotta figure

Terracotta figure
Hellenistic period
3rd-1st century BC