Past events at the Whipple Museum

Below are details and images from recent past events at or involving the Whipple Museum.

Our large frog model, Wh.6599. Frogs have long played an interesting role in scientific practice. Image © the Whipple Museum.

Frogs at the Whipple

Inspired by the arrival of our star amphibian at the museum, in Summer 2016, the Whipple went hopping mad!

Frogs have been fundamental in scientific developments in cloning, in the discovery of the electrical signals from nerves, and have been used for hundreds of years by students learning about anatomy and dissection. Frogs provided the first reliable, non-deadly pregnancy test and have even been into space! We celebrated their significant contributions to the history of science.

Summer at the Museums: Frogs in Focus

11am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm, Tuesday 2nd August and Tuesday 16th August

Visitors got up close and personal as we put our froggy friends under the microscope, recreating images that show why frogs have been the perfect scientific study buddies throughout history.

Drop in, all ages.

Summer at the Museums: Frog Leaps in Science

11am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm, Tuesday 9th August and Tuesday 23rd August

More frogs, as visitors hopped along to the Whipple to discover how frogs have made a splash in science, making their own jumping friend to take home!

Drop in, all ages.

Open Cambridge: Orreries and Globes

10am - 4pm, Friday 9th September

We delved into the depths of the Whipple Museum's stunning collection of orreries and globes before exploring related antiquarian books in the Whipple Library. Talks, held on the hour, offered the chance to find out about the links between our historic collections.

Drop in ages 15+.

'A trip to the moon, in the world famous air ship "Luna"': a postcard advertising the 'Trip to the Moon' ride at Coney Island. (Wh.6604.7) Image © the Whipple Museum.

Big Weekend

Saturday 9th July, 12pm - 5pm at Parker's Piece

The Whipple and the other University of Cambridge Museums were at their 'Make and Create' tent on Parker's Piece. Members of the public were inspired by our range of miniature globes, some making their own hanging pocket globe or planet to take home with them.

Drop in, all ages.

'This true book of ours, man himself': anatomising from the Greeks to the French Revolution.

10th March, 15th March and 17th March

Medical historian Andrew Cunningham explored the fascinating history of anatomising human and animal bodies in three illustrated talks: Anatomy in the theatre, Anatomy in the laboratory and Anatomy in the graveyard.

Visualizing Medicine- An evening of art, anatomy, and science

11th March 17.30-20.00

This event was a unique opportunity to look at historical anatomical models and books housed in the Whipple Museum and Library.

Visitors met our guest professional medical illustrators and learnt more about the techniques they use to bring anatomy to life for a wide range of audiences, including students, health science professionals and the general public.

This event picked up the anatomical theme explored in part of the University Library's current 600th anniversary exhibition, 'Lines of Thought', showcasing treasures from the Library's great collections. Open to the public from 11 March to 30 September, Milstein Exhibition Centre, Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR. There is more on this exhibition at the University Library's website [].

Whipple Anatomy Arcade

12th March 11.00-16.00

During this special Saturday opening event, visitors had the opportunity to see human anatomical teaching models and take part in fun anatomical games and puzzles.

Twilight at the Museums: Gadgets and Gizmos

17 February 4.30 - 8.30pm

A record number of visitors took part in our epic hunt for gadgets and gizmos and discovered how scientific instruments can help make sense of the world around us.

Be sure to check out other Twilight at the Museums events in Cambridge. []

Explorers and Collectors Activity Day

Wednesday 28 October, 10.30am - 3.30pm at The Polar Museum

Exploring the unknown, expeditions to find rare artefacts, collecting specimens of creatures from the distant past... The University of Cambridge Museums celebrated the explorers and collectors that make our museums. Science experiments, craft activities and much more were held throughout the day as visitors got the chance to be an explorer themselves!

With special activities from the Botanic Garden, the Whipple Museum, the Museum of Zoology, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The Big Game Night

Thursday 22 October, 6pm - 7.30pm at The Polar Museum

Returning due to popular demand, The Museum of Zoology, The Whipple Museum and The Polar Museum brought a night of entertainment with our very own game show Q-ice. The audience wathced as our contestants battle out for museum domination with our wise and witty compere, Ed Turner.

Summer at the Museums 2015

All about that fungus

3rd August 11.00-13.00 and 17th August 14.00-16.00

Visitors were invited to take a close look at the fungi models made by one of Cambridge's famous fungus experts, and had the opportunity to make their own models to take home.

Darwin Delights

10th August 11:00-13.00 and 14:00-16:00

The Museum of Zoology visited the Whipple Museum to explore Darwin's life and discoveries. Visitors learned about the instruments he used, the specimens he collected, and could make their own microscope slide to take home.

Take Two: Meet the Researchers at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science

Friday 15 May 18.00-20.00 2015

Once again, young researchers who have worked with the Whipple Museum and Library's fascinating collections returned to take over our galleries to chat and uncover the many intriguing stories behind the objects. A complementary glass of wine was served as visitors explored the Museum after hours.

To find out about other University of Cambridge Museums after-hours events click here [].

The quest for the curator's code

Saturday 14th March and Sunday 15th March 2015

In this exciting activity visitors used all of their scientific thinking skills to solve a series of fiendish puzzles hidden within the depths of the Whipple Museum. They needed to decrypt messages, break into safes, and navigate treacherous booby traps to solve the mystery behind the Curator's code.

This activity followed on from the past Cambridge Science Festival events: "The Secret of the Sinister Scientist" and "The Mystery of the Horrible Hypothesis". As with these past events, guests were divided into small groups and given a personal guide to help them through the activity. Along the way, guests saw 3D videos, solved puzzles and won prizes. The activity did not stop at the end of the session; further puzzles were available to solve after the event!

Lunchtime Talks at the Whipple Museum

Since the 1860s the New Museums Site in the centre of Cambridge has been one of the University's iconic locations, home to a fascinating variety of scientific work. At a time when the site is seeing many of its science departments leave for new facilities in west Cambridge, 2015 is an ideal time to look back on its extraordinary past. Two talks, by Professor Simon Schaffer and Dr Richard Staley, considered aspects of the site's long history, from the complexity of its origins to its heyday as a centre of cutting-edge research.

The Cavendish and Victorian Cambridge: founding a laboratory, finding a role

Monday 16 March 2015: 1:00pm - 2:00pm

The laboratory set up at the northern end of Free School Lane in the early 1870's eventually became one of the world's leading institutions of experimental physics. But this would have seemed most unlikely, and in some ways undesirable, to many of those involved in the foundation of the Cavendish. Its site, its staff and its aims were all highly controversial. This illustrated talk explored some of those fascinating debates: and linked them with much longer term questions about scientific sites, their audiences and their functions.

This talk was given by Professor Simon Schaffer.

Cloud chambers: tracking the history of particle physics in Cambridge

Wednesday 18 March 2015: 1:00pm - 2:00pm

This talk explores the origins of CTR Wilson's cloud chamber in meteorological research in 1895, and the way from 1911 it was used to take photographs of particle tracks and later helped open up research on cosmic rays by providing evidence for the existence of new particles. Exploring the variety of uses it was given in the hands of Wilson and others such as PMS Blackett and Giuseppe Occhialini helped the exploration of subatomic nature, meteorology, and the social environment of the Cavendish laboratory from the 1890s through to the 1940s.

This talk was given by Dr Richard Staley.

Twilight at the Museums: Cosmic Mission

Wednesday 18th February 2015: 16:30 - 20:30

Do you want to explore space but don't have a rocket? At the Whipple, visitors lookd at our galaxy from the comfort of planet Earth using torches to find out if they what it takes to be a space explorer.

From 20th October to 23rd November 2014, the University of Cambridge Museums presented a five week programme of exhibitions, events and activity with the Festival of Ideas and other partners and organistions across the City. Curating Cambridge was about celebrating everything that makes Cambridge what it is - the people, the places, the tales and the triumphs. The below events, forming part of Curating Cambridge took place at the Whipple Museum:

Museum Tour: Science and Industry in Cambridge

Monday November 3rd, 10th and 17th 2014 13:00-13:30

Curator-led tours of the Whipple Museum's collection, where visitors heard fascinating stories from the history of science in Cambridge. Spanning two-hundred years of city industry and university research, there's much more to Cambridge science than Isaac Newton and DNA.

Explore and Discover: Saturday Opening

Saturday 1st November 2014 10:30-16:30

A special Saturday opening where visitors explored the celestial and terrestrial through globes, astrolabes, telescopes and orreries, finding out about the ground breaking work of scientists through their instruments, tools, models and machines

There was also a talk entitled 'Tech, Tools, and Toys of Science before 1800'. Science didn't exist as we know it until the 1800s. Before then, 'scientific instruments' could be cutting-edge tech but also everyday tools or fashionable toys. CRASSH Fellow Dr. Alexi Baker relived the early modern world by exploring its technology!

The Incredible World of Dr. Auzoux (with the Museum of Zoology)

Monday 27th October 2014 14:00-16:00

Friday 31st October 2014 11:00-13:00

The Whipple Museum and Museum of Zoology investigated Dr. Auzoux's spectacular papier-mâché anatomical models of humans, plants and animals.

ChYpPS SummerDaze 2014

20th August 2014 14:00-17:00

Big Wednesday, Cherry Hinton Hall, CB1 8DW

21st August 2014 14:00-16:00

Community Thursday, Thorp Way Recreation Ground, CB5 8UN

The Whipple went on the road with hands-on activities to participate in two of Cambridge City's Council's SummerDaze events organized as part of their Children and Young People's Participation Service.

Find out more about these and other SummerDaze events on the City Council's website. []

Can you believe your eyes?

18th August 2014 10:30-13:00

Visitors explored the magical world of optical illusions through amazing optical instruments at the Whipple Museum, making their own spyglasses and thaumatropes to take home.


11th August 2014 10:30-13:00

As the summer warms up, the mini-beasts get a wriggling! The Museum of Zoology visited the Whipple Museum to zoom in on the miniature worlds of insects, worms and other invertebrates featured in the collection.

Ask the Experts: Researchers' Night at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science

Friday 16th May 2014 18:00 to 20:00

For Museums at Night 2014 [], visitors joined us to find out more about the Whipple Museum's collection by talking to young researchers who have worked with the Museum's fascinating array of historic scientific instruments and models.

The below events formed part of the Cambridge Science Festival. []

Science Saturday: Nature's patterns at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science

Saturday 15th March 2014 10am to 4pm

Visitors were encouraged to discover nature's patterns in shells, corals, plants and more with hands-on activities and makes. They could get up close to skeletons inside and out from the Museum of Zoology and explore the Whipple Museum of the History of Science's amazing collection of historic scientific instruments and teaching models. There were drop in family activities and guided tours of the Whipple's collection.

What is matter?

Thursday 13th March 2014: 1:00pm - 2.00pm

We all know that matter is made of atoms, which are made of particles. But what are particles, according to modern physics? Hard and tiny lumps; or some sort of cloud made up, in some way, out of a field? Philosopher of physics Jeremy Butterfield talked about what modern physicists think particles are.

Poincaré and Einstein on geometry: how do they look today?

Wednesday 12 March 2014: 4:00pm - 5:00pm

What is the real geometry of space? Just measure it with a ruler and protractor, you might say. But what if a physical force distorts all your instruments? Worse, what if the answer depends on what your ruler is made of? Must there be a single true geometry? Poincaré, the French mathematical genius, thought about these things more than a century ago.

Einstein's creation of General Relativity changed how people think about these questions. But physics didn't stop with Einstein. Does Einstein's theory have any serious rival today? If so, does Poincaré's work on geometry help us to understand it? Attendees found out what the latest particle physics work on gravitation suggests about Poincaré, Einstein and geometry.

Psychophysics of vision

Tuesday 11 March 2014: 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Most humans see in three primary colours, but why? Could there be people who see in more than three? What can we say about what that would be like? Does a digital camera work like an eye? It has recently been proposed that European robins are able to "see" the Earth's magnetic field - what does this mean, and how does it work? The philosopher of physics Dr Adam Caulton will explore the contribution that physics and psychophysics has made in providing answers to these questions.

Twilight at the Museums: Natural World Torch-lit Trail

Wednesday 19th February 2014 4.30pm to 8.30pm

Visitors explored the natural world after dark at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, discovering the many weird and wonderful models of plants, bugs, and animals in the museum's fascinating collection.

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