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WhaleCOME back!

University Museum of Zoology re-opening Thursday 24 September 2020

The University Museum of Zoology in Cambridge will re-open on Thursday 24 September, having been closed since March this year. The Museum team have been working hard to get the Museum ready for re-opening, making sure visitors have a great experience, whilst also ensuring that all the safety measures are in place to protect visitors, staff and volunteers. There is also more to see, as while the galleries were closed over 100 specimens have been added to the displays, including a huge taxidermy tarpon as you enter the museum (a large-mouthed silver-coloured fish), golden eagles and a fur seal.  

The Museum, which houses one of the most important natural history collections in the UK, remains free to enter and will now operate a timed ticketed system. Visitors will be required to book their free tickets online before arriving at the Museum. Each ticket allocates a 90 minute time slot to visit the Museum. A limited number of tickets will be available for each 90 minute slot, so visitors can feel safe in an uncrowded and relaxed environment. The Museum will also be operating a one way system around the specimens, with various trails available for adults and children.

Hand sanitiser will be provided for visitors, and the Museum will be cleaned between the allocated time slots. All visitors, staff and volunteers will be required to wear face-coverings.

The Museum shop is located in the Whale Hall, sitting underneath Cambridge’s largest skeleton, a 21 metre fin whale. The shop, which offers all kinds of zoological related gifts, will be open for contactless purchases.


Professor Rebecca Kilner, Director of the Museum said ‘I am delighted that we are re-opening the Museum after being closed for six months. The Museum team have done some amazing work during lockdown to continue to communicate with our audiences, but there is nothing like walking amongst the actual Museum specimens to get an appreciation of the natural world. A lot of thought and effort has gone into ensuring the Museum is a safe place to visit, and I can’t wait to see people enjoying the Museum again.’

The Museum has also been awarded Visit England’s ‘Good To Go’ mark – this industry standard mark shows that the Museum has followed government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, has a risk assessment in place and has processes in place to maintain cleanliness and social distancing.

More of the University’s incredible museums will be reopening during September and October. The Fitzwilliam Museum, Kettles Yard and the Botanic Garden are already welcoming back visitors.


Notes for editors

The University Museum of Zoology will re-open on Thursday 24th Sept. It will be open three days per week - Thurs / Friday / Saturday. Entry is free via a timed ticketed system, tickets will be available to book from Thurs 17 Sept 2020.

The Museum holds over two million specimens, including giants such as whales, elephants, giraffe, an ice-age giant ground sloth as well as many insects, birds, fish, molluscs and corals.

Some specimens have been collected by Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle voyage and the Museum also displays one of the world’s most complete dodo skeletons.

A major new British Bird Gallery opened in February 2020, displaying over 200 species of British birds, each of them displayed amongst their natural habitat.  

The Museum of Zoology had re-opened its doors in 2018, after a five year, £4.1 million re-development – including almost £2 million of funding raised by National Lottery players.


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University of Cambridge Museums is a consortium of the eight University Museums and the Botanic Garden, supported by Arts Council England. The consortium includes: Fitzwilliam Museum, Kettle's Yard, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Museum of Zoology, Museum of Classical Archaeology, Whipple Museum of the History of Science, The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and The Polar Museum. The University's collections are a world-class resource for researchers, students and members of the public representing the country’s highest concentration of internationally important collections, all within walking distance of the City Centre.