DCS: Local Heritage Event:
Tour of the Whipple Museum of the History of Science

Saturday 24th October 2010 Return to Alumni Events

Whipple guides

Our Tour Guides: Ruth and Claire

The Whipple Museum is steeped in the history of Cambridge as part of the buildings it occupies (the Perse Room or Main Gallery) not only is the original first Cambridge Free School set up by Dr Stephen Perse in 1615 but also the collection has it's origins in the collection of Robert Whipple who donated it to the University in 1944. Since the museum's opening more than 10 years later it has produced an excitement amongst children and adults alike over the years, so it was with some sadness that we learned that the museum's renovations had overrun and instead of 2 themed tours we could have only one plus some time to personally view. However the enthusiasm of our guide Ruth Horry together with her colleague Claire Wallace more than made up for our prior disappointment.


We were told of the history of the collections, and the history of certain objects most of which cannot be appreciated from a museum visit without a guide. We were shown the Perse Room and saw a wooden telescope made by William Herschel in 1790, the Grand Orrery made by George Adams in 1750, still in their positions but with the covers taken off for our benefit. Elsewhere the rooms were full of instruments ranging from an old electron microscope and not 'too old' electronic calculators to navigation instruments, microscopes (including that of Darwin), telescopes, teaching models and much more. The names of some of these instruments defeated our knowledge but the craftsmanship was obvious and exceptional.

Discovery Room

In the Discovery Gallery with our guide

Ruth accompanied us to lunch in the Graduate Centre answering more of our questions, then continued talking to us with Claire as we went around the museum in our own time. Truly a personalised day to remember. There was far too much to describe in this report but we would recommend that you go back when it reopens probably in the New Year. Meanwhile our thanks go to Ruth and Claire for a stimulating and exciting day.

In the Perse Room

The Perse Room (Main Gallery) in renovation but the Orrery and telescope are shown with the covers off


Deep conversation at lunch

Victorian Parlour

In the Victorian Parlour with our guide Ruth

(Click on the pictures for larger versions)

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