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December 2015




Plan your holiday visit, see the Museum opening hours page.
CLOSED: 24-26 & 31 December and 1 January

Alongside our free Ronald Searle and Cradled in Caricature exhibitions, discover our permanent collections this December.

Winter scenes, angels and nativity paintings can all be found in our galleries.

See The Adoration of the Shepherds by Tintoretto in Gallery 7, or richly illuminated manuscripts in the Rothschild Gallery.

The café will be serving mince pies, stollen and hot chocolate throughout December.

Find an exclusive range of beautiful art inspired gifts, stunning Christmas cards, books and jewellery in the Courtyard shop.

Join us on Twitter for a different image from the collections each day throughout the 12 days of Christmas.

Free family activities for Christmas

We have free Christmas inspired activities for children to pick up anytime from the entrance desks:

Ages 2 - 6 - Nativity Story satchel
Ages 5+ - 12 days of Christmas Drawing Bag


Silent Partners wins exhibition of the year

Silent Partners: Artist and Mannequin from Function to Fetish has won the Apollo award for exhibition of the year.

It was selected from an international shortlist of five, which included Tate Britain and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

You can see more major exhibitions in the Fitzwilliam's Bicentenary year in 2016:

Death on the Nile: Uncovering the afterlife of ancient Egypt, 23 February – 22 May 2016

COLOUR: The art and science of illuminated manuscripts, 30 July – 30 December 2016

Britten Sinfonia Academy create music inspired by Handel's manuscripts

Free recital, Gallery 3
Sun 6 December:  15.00 - 16.00

The young musicians of the Britten Sinfonia Academy have been exploring the Handel manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam. Looking at period techniques, they are working to create a new composition which will premier in their At Lunch concerts in July 2016.

A first glimpse of the new works inspired by the collection and music from Handel to Mozart will be shared in a recital on Sunday 6 December. Transformations will be presented by composer Kenneth Hesketh and cellist and early music performance specialist Christopher Suckling.

Admission is by token and places are limited.  1 per person available at the Founder's Entrance desk on a first-come first-served basis from 13.30.


The Kiss of Judas

The Kiss of Judas is one of the rarest artworks of its type; a medieval English panel painting created for a church. At the time of the Reformation church paintings were destroyed in their thousands. Few survive across the UK.

Devout Catholic parishioners often scratched and gouged at the hated figure of Judas, so this painting would have been at risk from Catholic and Protestant alike in its time.

Conservators discovered the painting had been turned around during the Reformation - hence, its miraculous survival.

The painting has been fully restored and is on display in the Rothschild Gallery.
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Free admission. Open: Tue to Sat 10.00 - 17.00, Sun & Bank Holiday Mondays 12.00 - 17.00.
Closed: Mondays


Ronald Searle: ‘Obsessed with drawing’

Until 31 January 2016

Ronald Searle (1920-2011) is among Britain's most popular and celebrated graphic satirists.

Born in Cambridge, Searle is best known as the inventor of the fictional girls’ school St. Trinian’s (1948) and for his collaborations on Geoffrey Willans’ Molesworth series (1953- 58). However, as this exhibition shows, he had a long and productive career across a range of different genres. Searle worked as a war artist, but also made drawings for book and magazine illustration, travel reportage, theatre, film, medals and political caricature.

This exhibition is drawn from a recent gift of the artist’s work, generously presented to the Museum by his children in 2014.
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Cradled in Caricature: Visual humour in satirical prints and drawings

Until 31 January 2016

This exhibition looks at the methods used by British artists from James Gillray to Glen Baxter to amuse and entertain, ranging from the simple exaggeration of facial features and burlesque comedy, to more complicated word-play and ironic literary allusions. 

Works in the show are drawn from the Fitzwilliam’s collection with key loans from Andrew Edmunds and Benjamin Lemer.
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1939-1945: World at War

Until 31 January 2016

Banknotes and coins reveal little known aspects of World War II. See different types of currency and learn about rampant inflation as the nations at war struggled to pay for the conflict.
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Beauty and Balance:
Kettle’s Yard at the Fitzwilliam Museum

Until 03 April 2016

Paintings and sculptures by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Ben Nicholson, Alfred Wallis, Joan Miró and Christopher Wood will be on display.
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Mademoiselle Claus by Manet

Following Hercules: The story of classical art

Until 6 December 2015

See how sculptures made in the Mediterranean millennia ago came to define western art. Hercules inhabits each of the forty objects on display, from miniatures and Renaissance prints, drawings and paintings, to Wedgwood cameos and a giant polystyrene statue by contemporary artist Matthew Darbyshire.
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Take Two: Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus and Perspective II, Manet’s Balcony

Until 13 December 2015

Enjoy two special loans on display in the Impressionist Gallery - Manet’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus from the Ashmolean Museum and Magritte's Perspective II: Manet's Balcony from the Museum of Fine Arts.
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Unless otherwise stated, talks are free and admission is by token, 1 per person, available at the Courtyard Entrance desk from 12.45 on the day. Induction loop available. For more information and locations visit our website.


Ronald Searle, Cambridge, and caricature

Wed 2 December: 13.15 – 14.00

These talks take place in the Shiba Gallery & Charrington Print Room.

Professor Martin Salisbury, Director, Cambridge School of Art, Jane Munro (Keeper) and Elenor Ling (Research Assistant) Paintings Drawings and Prints.
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Art Speak

Tue 8 December: 13.15 - 13.45

Enjoy half an hour looking at and talking about art. No token necessary.
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Henry Moore’s Hill Arches

Wed 9 December: 13.15 – 14.00

Dr Victoria Avery, Keeper of Applied Arts
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Tour of the Museum

Saturdays: 14.30 - 15.30

A one-hour tour of the collections with a Blue Badge Guide. Tickets may be bought from the Guide or in advance via Cambridge Tourist Information Centre tel: 01223 457574 or email:
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 People in gallery

Audio descriptive tour for blind and partially sighted adults

Tue 15 December: 15.00 – 15.45

Join trained Museum staff for an audio descriptive tour on Ancient Egyptian artefacts of the afterlife.
Free. Booking essential, tel: 01223 332904 or email:
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ReSource: Thread line with Lucy Mazur

Sat 12 December: 11.00 – 13.00

13 - 18 yrs

Join us in our art studio to develop your own ideas and projects in stitch inspired by figures in motion.

£5. Booking Essential. To register your interest please tel: 01223 332904 or email: Places will be confirmed on receipt of payment.
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Family First Saturday

Sat 5 December: 14.00 - 16.00

Drop-in to our Fitz Family Welcome Point in Gallery 33 and collect drawing materials, activities and trails to use throughout the Museum, this month exploring people and portraits.
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Fitz and Will: The Christmas Adventure

Fitz and Will, the Cambridge Cats, who live at the Fitzwilliam Museum, now feature in a beautifully illustrated festive picture book.

Join our famous cats on their third adventure getting into all kinds of mischief at King's College Carol service and flying high across the city with Father Christmas.

All three books are available to buy at the Fitzwilliam Museum shop or online at


General admission to the Fitzwilliam Museum is FREE

For full details of all events and workshops, visit our website at

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All images © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, unless otherwise stated


5. Ronald Searle (1920-2011), Four cats © The estate of Ronald Searle
9. Édouard Manet Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus © The Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
11. View of Kettle’s Yard house. Photo: Paul Alitt
12. Ronald Searle (1920-2011), Father Christmas and reindeer, Christmas card design © The estate of Ronald Searle
13 & 14. © Martin Bond
18. Cover design for The Christmas Adventure by Jia Han