Open Cambridge prepares to reveal the city’s past, present and future

9/08/2018

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Would you like to encounter the supernatural at Christ’s College, see behind the doors of Cambridge mosque, find out what’s going on at the city’s newest neighbourhood, Eddington, or explore gender and sexual identities at the Fitzwilliam Museum? If the answer is yes, Open Cambridge offers an abundance of events for the curious minded.

Bookings open on Monday (13th August) for the hugely popular heritage weekend, which runs from 14-15 September. The free, two-day celebration, run by the University of Cambridge, features over 80 events from walks, talks, tours and exhibitions showcasing the rich historical and cultural diversity of Cambridge; its buildings, landscape, art, history and people from the perspective of both town and gown, old and new. 

Cambridge is a city of contrasts; medieval spires intermingle with fresh, new architecture; tradition, legacy and heritage complement the cutting-edge research and technological advances that the city is internationally renowned for. Steeped in history yet fast-paced and modern, it is a city that has evolved and adapted for hundreds of years.

Open Cambridge is for anyone keen to explore and learn more about this thriving, vibrant city, from a peek behind the scenes at the Mosque on Mill Road, a rare tour of the Marshalls’ hangars, or fun and games at the Cambridge fire station, to guided tours of Cambridge University Colleges’ exquisite gardens, museums and libraries.

Top of the bill includes an exhibition at Christ’s College Old Library, ‘The art of disruption: society and the supernatural’, for those intrigued by the strange, subversive and chaotic world of the supernatural. Another exhibition worth checking out is at the Fitzwilliam Museum, which is offering special tours exploring gender and sexual identities through a selection of objects in the Fitzwilliam Museum collections.

The rich history of the city is brought to life yet again through a series of walks, introducing visitors to some of the people and places that have made the city the powerhouse it is today. Visitors will be able to learn about Cambridge’s contribution to the world of espionage; journey through the religious history of Cambridge churches and chapels; uncover the architectural significance of the city’s buildings; and explore the area around the river port, once the hub of the town, the origins of Magdalene College, and the old Danish quarter. There is also the hugely popular complete Cambridge tour, which includes punting along the majestic College backs and an intriguing walking tour around the historic city.

For many, Cambridge is synonymous with science and technology. However, art is also a prominent feature of the city. A range of events during Open Cambridge showcase examples of artistic expression. Murray Edwards College, home to award-winning gardens, an internationally acclaimed art collection by women artists, and a bountiful archive and library, offers a tour of art, architecture and landscape. The eighth exhibition at the Heong Gallery brings together a collection of contemporary American and British prints, from the British Museum and elsewhere, on the themes of communication, the breakdown of communication and isolation.

One of the main highlights of this year’s Open Cambridge is the special day of talks, covering renewable energy and sustainable living, and walking or cycling tours by the architects and professionals who have created the development around Eddington, the flourishing new community being delivered by the University of Cambridge. Cambridge’s newest district already has a primary school, community centre, which has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize, supermarket and sporting facilities with more to come. Visitors can learn about the first phase of Eddington and about creating the foundations for a long-lasting and sustainable community.

A further highlight is the annual Open Cambridge three-course dinner on the evening of Friday 14th September. This year the fine-dining experience is at the beautiful and historic Madingley Hall. The after-dinner speech is set to be given by Head Gardener Richard Gant.

Speaking ahead of this year’s Open Cambridge, Coordinator Sue Long said: “Cambridge is a truly remarkable city and everyone who lives here, or visits, understands that. Past and present, it’s a small city with a huge impact.

“The Open Cambridge weekend is a fantastic opportunity for the community and visitors alike to celebrate the city and enjoy its uniqueness; the ancient Colleges, the picturesque ‘backs’ and the exquisite architecture, all combine to create an extraordinary city we are very proud of.

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming back previous visitors and meeting new people who may never have been to any of the many cultural and historical events on offer.”

A copy of the full programme can be downloaded here.

Image: Storey's Field centre, Eddington

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Open Cambridge is a busy weekend and many of the events require pre-booking in advance.

Bookings open on Monday 13 August and places can be booked online at www.opencambridge.cam.ac.uk or by calling 01223 766 766.

The phone-line will be open between 11am – 3pm, Monday to Friday. There are also plenty of drop-in events for people to enjoy.  

Open Cambridge is part of the national Heritage Open Days scheme. Designed to offer special access to places that are normally closed to the public or charge admission, the initiative provides an annual opportunity for people to discover the local history and heritage of their community. For more information please visit: www.heritageopendays.org.uk

University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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