Apologies for any mistakes on this page! Please contact me to get them corrected.
This doesn't pretend to cover all the public art in Cambridge. There is a lot of it, some of which is inside college grounds. See Cambridge Sculpture Trails for some of these. These are all sculptures which can be seen from public roads. Other sculpture and carvings are quite small. See the Animals page for some of these. There is also art which is unofficial, and might be temporary - see Dinky Doors, herons, yarn bombing, paving stone and other Cambridge stories.
The following index is arranged (roughly) by location. It might be possible to walk round each area seeing everything, but I suggest that you look at the photos before making too wide a detour, to see if it's worth it! There are two more indexes at the bottom of this page, the artworks listed by artist and a picture index by date.
The map marks where to find the different items. 100 metres is about 100 yards, and 1 kilometre is about half a mile.
Things worth looking at are marked in red. Click on them, or on the links, for descriptions and pictures.
|City centre||North and West||East||South||Off the map|
Between the Lines
Saxon carving, St Benets
Zoology Museum art
Sedgwick Museum art
Tibbs Row art
Mother and child
Diana rose garden
Isaac Newton Institute art
Sidgwick Site art
Moonstone, Arrows and Obelisk
The Barnwell Sentence
I'm Laughing at Clouds
Let Us Be All We Can Be
Construction in Alumium
Hobson's conduit head
Chemistry Faculty bas-relief
Scott Polar museum art
Roman Catholic church
Tree of Knowledge
Statues round Hills Road
Cambridge North (NE Cambridge)|
DNA path (South of Cambridge)
picture index by date
Museums and galleries
Heong Gallery, Downing College
Museum of Classical Archaeology
Click on the photos of artworks for a bigger version.
The Great Gate of St Johns College is its main entrance, in St Johns Street. This was built in 1516. The College Arms are flanked by curious creatures known as yales, mythical beasts with elephants tails, antelopes bodies, goats heads, and swivelling horns.
Trinity College is in Trinity Street and its Great Gate built from 1490-1530. The gatehouse was finished in the reign of Henry VIII, and his statue is above the door. His original sceptre has been replaced by a chair leg (as a student joke).
There are many more college gates which are worth looking at. Click here for more on them.
Outside Great St Mary's, there are two maps. Since these are 3D, they can be felt as well as looked at, so they can be used by the visually impaired. One map is of the city centre, and the other shows more of Cambridge. Click here for more details of this area.
There are inscriptions round the edge of one of them for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, and the octocentenary of the City of Cambridge (its charter) in 2001.
The maps are made of bronze by Vernon McElroy and were installed in 2002. Vernon McElroy was a director of estate management at Cambridge University and a member of the Rotary Club of Cambridge Rutherford. He was a keen sculptor who designed and made these bronze tactile models. They were funded by Cambridge's four Rotary clubs. There is another map on Queens Green, see here.
Cambridge City Council is based in the Guildhall. Click here for more about it. These are its doors, dated 1933, and made by Lawrence Bradshaw.
Here is a close-up so you can see the style. There are also two decorated pedestals either side of the door, often used by tourists to sit on!
Snowy Farr, front of Guildhall
Snowy Farr was a greatly loved character of Cambridge, who collected money for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. He wore a red uniform and top hat, and had a magnificent white beard. He had a small cart, with animals, and his cat used to sit on top of his hat, while mice ran round the rim. When he died in 2007, it was decided to have an artwork commemorating him. Here it is. It is called Snowy, by Gary Webb, and was unveiled in 2012.
Here is Snowy in all his splendour!
Talos, Guildhall Street
By the side of the Guildhall, on the way to Petty Cury, there is a bronze statue called Talos. The date given for it is 1950, but it was put in its current position in 1973. It is by Michael Ayrton.
It has a plaque which says "Talos: Legendary man of bronze was guardian of Minoan Crete, the first civilisation of Europe. Sculptor, Michael Ayrton"
Tucked between the Guildhall and Lion Yard shopping centre, there is a small square called Fisher Square, used by shoppers to sit out in the sun, although most wouldn't know the name! In the middle is this sculpture called Between the Lines. Installed in 2007, it is made of granite, and is by Peter Randall-Page.
On the corner of Benet Street and Kings Parade is a splendid clock called the Corpus Chronophage. The grasshopper on top of the clock is mentioned on the animal page. The grasshopper is actually the world's largest grasshopper escapement. This rocks backwards and forwards, converting the pendulum motion into the rotational motion of the cogwheel. In this clock, this escapement is a ferocious insect with teeth that bite together every minute, eating the time. The creature's eyes blink at random.
A plaque close by says "The Corpus Clock, designed by John C Taylor and inaugurated in 2008 by Stephen Hawking, is accurate every 5 minures". Click here for John C Taylor's webpage.
The clock has no hands. There are three circles of dots which show the hour, minute and second. The clock seems to hestitate from time to time, which explains why the clock is accurate every five minutes rather than all the time.
Under the clock is carved a quotation from 1 John 2:17 "Mundus transit et concupiscentia eius" or "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof." The first word looks like MUDUS rather than MUNDUS, but there is a line over the first U. This is a scribal mark showing that the word has been abbreviated.
St Benets church, in Benet Street, is the oldest church in Cambridge. Its tower is Saxon (early 11th century AD). Inside the church (which is usually open), the tower arch has two interesting carvings of animals. These are also, presumably, Saxon.
Crocodile, New Museums site
If you enter the New Museums site (previously known as the Old Cavendish) from the entrance in Free School Lane, you will see this crocodile. It is on the outer wall of the Mond Laboratory. The Laboratory was built in 1933 by the Royal Society for Kapitza to continue his work into intense magnetic fields. During the building work, those passing the lab were surprised to see a figure in a brown monk's habit busily chipping away at the brickwork behind a tarpaulin screen. This was Eric Gill who had been commissioned by Kapitza to carve both a plaque of Rutherford and this Crocodile - "The Crocodile" being Kapitza's pet name for Rutherford, either because of his fear of having his head bitten off by him, or because his voice could be relied upon to precede his visits, just like the crocodile's alarm clock in "Peter Pan". This information is taken from here.
There are two striking art works made of slate on the sides of buildings near the Zoology Museum. These are called Slate Work East and Slate Work South. They are close together on the map, but further to walk. One is tucked under a metal staircase on Corn Exchange Street. For the other, you need to enter the New Museums site on the north side of Downing Street, and turn right.
Both works are made of Welsh slate (see below, right). Holes have been left between them in the hope that native bees will use them!
The artists are Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey and these were commissioned in 2016. Their website is here - it describes the works in more detail.
In the entrance lobby of the Zoology Museum, there is a mechanical whale. This was installed in 2018. It was created by Matthew Lane Sanderson, with figures by Rachel Wood. It is a fantasy Zoological ariship representing a roving glocal centre for ecological scientific education, research and exhibition, a mirror of the Zoology Museum itself. The crew of the whale include; past and present eminent Professors of Zoology, a curator, technicians, young students and resident artists.
You can turn a handle to make things move (you are invited to make a donation if you do.)
Gormley statue, in Downing Site
Antony Gormley is one of Britain's best known contemporary sculptors. He made the Angel of the North. There is a Gormley sculpture in Cambridge which is rather smaller! In fact, it takes some finding.
The entrance of the Downing Site is in Downing Street. Walk in and turn slightly towards your left. In the paving, you will see two human-sized foot prints (see right). Apparently this installation is a human figure buried up side down with only the soles of the feet showing. There is no information near-by about it, and you can walk right over it without seeing it if you're not careful. It is dated 2002, and it is called Earthbound: Plant.
Nearby, on the lawn, there is a rather splendid sun dial. Look up, above the Sedgwick Museum, to see a weather vane with an appropriate animal on it!
The Sedgwick Museum is in the Downing site, close by. The architect of the Sedgwick Museum was Thomas Graham Jackson and he was responsible for this art (see here. The museum was opened in 1904. The stairs leading to the museum have pairs of splendid animals at the bottom, bears and bisons. Why bears and bison? In 1904 geologists found fossils of bear and bison in the gravels of Barrington, a village south-east of Cambridge. There is also a model of a dinosaur, Clare the Tyrannosaurus rex by Ian Curran (and nothing to do with Thomas Graham Jackson). It was centrepiece at Clare college's "Primordial" May Ball in 2014, and then acquired by the Sedgewick Museum, which involved moving it through the centre of Cambridge! See more here.
By the way, all this should not be confused with art in the Sidgwick Site.
To see the art below, you need to go out of the Downing site and turn right, to see the outside of the Sedgwick Museum. The coat of arms of Cambridge University is supported by an iguanodon (on the left) and a giant sloth (on the right). Beyond is this mammoth
Tibbs Row art
This ornate coat of arms with two supporting cherubs is old, but I don't know anything about it. There doesn't seem to be anything on the shield. I do know that it gets moved around the place as buildings get built, and subsequently demolished! At present, it is at the end of Tibbs Row, a small road off Downing Street, at the back of John Lewis, above a carpark entrance. This website says "Another attractive Edwardian building on this site was destroyed to build the hideous Norwich Union building on the Downing Street/St.Tibbs Row corner - they preserved the statue of cherubs from over the door and it sat somewhat incongruously over the new entrance. This building was in turn demolished to build the Grand Arcade."
Mother and child
This sculpture is on the side of the John Lewis building, between Downing Street and St Andrews Street. It faces Downing Street, and is quite high up the building. It is called Mother and Child, by Sophie Dickens, and is dated 2008. It is made of carved wood.
Christs Pieces is a park close to the centre. When Diana, Princess of Wales, died in 1997, the city council decided to make this rose garden as a memorial. A plaque says "Diana, Princess of Wales Rose Garden, opened by The Right Worshipful the Mayor of the City of Cambridge, Councillor Richard Smith JP on 22nd September 1999".
Another memorial close by commemorates Andrew Murden.
CamLETS mural, Parker's Piece
Round the back of Hobbs pavilion, there is a mural about CamLETS. LETS stands for Local Exchange Trading System. It is a way a community can trade skills, services or goods without needing or using real money.
There is a small plaque in the centre saying "Cambridge 2000 - Sustainable City" and on the mural it says "Act locally" and "CamLETS". There was a Cambridge City Council community arts project funded by the Millennium Priority Development Programme for community groups to make mosaics and this is the CamLETS one. A description connected with another mosaics in the project says "The mosaic is part of a larger project called Mosaics for the Millennium. This is a partnership between Cambridge Sustainable City and the City Council's Community Arts Team inspired by Local Agenda 21, offering groups the opportunity to make a mosaic for their chosen site celebrating this special year. Local Agenda 21 is a plan for the 21st century adopted by the City Council which seeks to secure a sustainable future for the city by embracing the three E's - Economy, Equity and the Environment. Groups explore these themes artistically in their mosaics."
On Parker's Piece, near the swimming pool, there is a statue celebrating the Cambridge Rules. Before 1848, there were no accepted national rues for Association football (or soccer). Public schools each had their own rules. When these school boys came to study at Cambridge University, this caused problems! So they drew up a set of "Cambridge Rules", and these are given on the statue. These were the basis of the future national rules for football.
The artwork gives the rules in different languages, to show the international spread of football. It is teamed with Street Child United which uses sport to give a voice to street children. So this is only part of the artwork. Other parts are located around the world. The website of the sculpture is here.
The artists are Alan Ward and Neville Gable, and it was "unveiled" in 2018 (by taking off the football scarves in the third photo.)
Diver, Swimming Pool, Gonville Place
The entrance of the swimming pool and Kelsey Kerridge sports centre has this sculpture in the glass lobby. On this page, I am not usually describing artworks inside buildings, but the swimming pool is usually open, and if it isn't, you can see this through the glass. Don't get in the way of people wanting to go in and out, though!
It has a plaque which says "Diver, Esther Joseph". It is dated 1990.
Swimmers, Swimming Pool, Gonville Place
To one side of Parker's Piece, there is a patch of green called Donkey's Common, with the swimmin pool. This has an attractive roof, like a wave. Tucked behind it, among some bushes, is a statue of some swimmers.
It has a plaque which says "Swimmers: from the design of the late Betty Rea (1904-1966), by John W. Mills, unveiled in May 1966 by J.B.Collins Esquire, who as Mayor of Cambridge 1963-1964 launched an appeal to pay for the commission of this work."
Human Touch mural, Swimming pool
I'm not sure whether this mural is temporary or permanent. It says:)>
"The Human Touch" Fitzwilliam Museum. Thanks to Nelly Duff Gallery, Giacomo Run 2021
Jesus Green is a pleasant green area by the river, near the city centre - see the second river walk. Near Jesus lock bridge, there are some flat stones laid out in the grass (and easy to overlook). These are the Human Sundial. This needs a person to complete it. You stand on the mark, and your shadow shows the time. Click here for more about it. The Human Sundial is in memory of Vernon McElroy and was unveiled in 2014. Vernon McElroy was a member of the Rotary Club of Cambridge Rutherford, and he conceived the idea of this sundial a year earlier. He also designed and made the 3D maps of Cambridge described above.
The stone in the centre marks where you should stand according to which month it is. Your shadow then falls onto the stones round the edge to give the time. The photos on the right, above, show it in use during a sunny Christmas Day, which produced good, long shadows! By the way, the stone area at the top of the third picture is not part of the sundial. It is the base of a bandstand.
Helix, Thompson Lane
A hotel in Thompson Lane has this artwork set into its wall. It's labelled "Helix, Christophe Gordon-Brown 2011". It may be a reference to the DNA helix, as Francis Crick, one of the discoverers, lived in Portugal Place, close by. Unfortunately, this is a spiral, not a helix (which is a 3D spiral). Also, it is a single spiral, and the DNA helix is a double helix. Never mind!
Trellis, Thompson Lane
This website about a development in Thompson Lane says "Public Art for this development comprises an artwork designed by artist Cath Campbell to both compliment and deliberately disrupt the architectural rhythm and aesthetic of the space. Cath created an intricately woven permanent timber sculptural installation for the south corner of St Clement's Gardens, beginning at ground level and reaching to the third storey. The artwork creates both a sculptural object and a functional support for a planting scheme that will be trained across the artwork. This significant feature provides a focal point for the building that can be viewed from Bridge Street." It doesn't seem to have a name, but its function is a trellis.
25 Magdalene Street is 16th Century. It has wood carvings supporting the beams across the building. There is a local story that these used to advertise a brothel! However, it is more likely that these grotesques were a protection against witchcraft.
This is both a large and small scale artwork! There are small bronze flowers set into the pavement, along Magdalene Street (on one side of the street only). The map at the top of the page gives red dots showing the range, but it is not trying to describe the position of particular flowers accurately!
The plaque near the Cambridge Core (see below) describes this artwork. it is by Michael Fairfax, 2001.
This rather strange bronze column, on the corner of Magdalene Street and Chesterton Lane, is by by artist Michael Fairfax, 2001. Click on the photo for more of it, although it is hard to photograph! "Magdalene" is pronouned "Maudlin", by the way!
It is described in a plaque nearby, which says "This sculpture, by artist Michael Fairfax, represents layers of Cambridge history dating back to Roman times. It was inspired by finds from an excavation at this site by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit in 2000. The dig revealed a medieval coin hoard - the Magdalene Hoard - now preserved in the Fitzwilliam Museum. Remnants of a Roman Street, first millennium burial sites, Saxon and Medieval buildings and a nineteenth-century public house were also found during the dig funded by Anglian Water. To make the sculpture, oak tree trunks from Wimpile Hall were carved, and then cast in bronze. The wooden model is on display at the Cambridge Folk Museum. This Gateway feature is part of a public art project, which includes Street-Side Bollards and a Bronze Flower Path leading from St John's corner to this point. It was sponsored by Cambridgeshire County and Cambridge City Councils."
Southern Shade, front of Churchill College, Storey's Way
Churchill College is to the north of Cambridge city centre, on Storey's Way, between Madingley Road and Huntingdon Road. Apparently there is a lot of sculpture within its grounds. Two of these are at the front, so visible from the road. You may be able to visit the college to see the rest - check at the porter's lodge.
This is Souther Shade, by Nigel Hall, dated 2012. The artist's website is here.
The Now, front of Churchill College, Storey's Way
The other sculpture in front of Churchill College is also by Nigel Hall. It is The Now, dated 1999. The college website describes it here. It says "By placing a wedge and a cone together in a position that individually would be impossible to sustain, Nigel Hall enables them to stand in mutual support."
Murray Edward College is close to Churchill College, on the Huntingdon Road, and also has sculpture in its grounds. It has a notable collection of women's art inside the college, called the New Hall Art Collection, see here - again call in at the porter's lodge to see if you can visit. By the way, "New Hall" was the old name of Murray Edwards College, and the art collection didn't want to change the name - it's complicated...
These three sculptures are all by John Robinson. They are from the Universe Series. From left to right, the individual scultures are called "Creation" (dated 1991), "Intuition" (dated 1993) and "Genius" (dated 1995). There is more about the artist here.
Flame, Herschell Road, off Grange Road
This is called Flame, by Helaine Blumenfeld, dated 2004.
This is called Triangulum, by John Sidney Carter, dated 2016.
Triangulum is a constellation in the night sky. This sculpture pays homage to the astronomer Frederick Herschel who lived nearby. For more on the artist and work, see here.
There is a line of stacks of books (in bronze) in front of the UL (University Library). This is called Ex Libris, by Harry Gray, dated 2009.
"Ex Libris" with a library name is written inside books to give the library or book collection that they belong to. The middle four stacks of books are bigger than the rest, and a book in each of these has part of the title of the artwork - EX - LI - BR - IS - you can see one of these in the right-hand photo. You can read more about it here. Apparently the middle four stacks can be rotated.
Art in the Sidgwick Site, between West Road and Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge delights in having similarly named places not necessarily near each other. We have already met art in the Sedgwick Museum above, and now here is art in the (slightly differently spelt) Sidgwick Site. They both have Gormleys as well.
DAZE IV is by Antony Gormley, dated 2014. The cast iron sculpture was originally situated on Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Landmark Trust. Its installation date in this position was 2016. It is apparently on a long term loan for 10 years. You can read more about it here. Anthony Gormley's website is here.
Bigger Bite by Nigel Hall, dated 2010. More here.
Span by Phillip King, dated 1967. More here.
Closer to West Road, there is a bank of grey stone, with insets. If you go round the back of it, it's a cycle park! One of the insets says "Christine Kettaneh, mute melodies, 2013, [A:L:L]". Her website about the artwork is here, where she says "I wonder what would result if I asked key cutters to save all the metal filings - that metallic dust that gets lost when the keys are cut. What if I collected them? What if I restored the wholeness back to the keys?"
There are three rocks next to the Museum of Classical Archaeology. This website explains all: "In 2000-2010, a small extension for the Classics building was constructed, and as part of this, the grass plot between Classics and Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (FAMES) was landscaped. FAMES in particular was very keen on a garden, and it was decided to adopt a minimalist approach: a flower border, a single tree, and three boulders, rather reminiscent of a Japanese garden. Colleagues of the Faculty visited a stone yard in Fenstanton (possibly Bannold) in the spring of 2010 and chose: one large boulder of Scottish granite, one pillar of Welsh slate and a 'stele' of Western Irish quartz." By the way, the Museum of Classical Archaeology is well worth visiting. It has full-sized plaster replicas of classical statues.
3D map, Queens Green
If you walk from Silver Street bridge towards Queen Road, there is a path on the right over a grassed area. See the third river walk for details of this area. Here is a 3-D map, which describes the centre of Cambridge. Since it is 3D, it can be felt as well as looked at, so it can be used by the visually impaired. Its position is perhaps explained by the fact that tourist buses frequently park in Queens Road.
The map is made of bronze by Vernon McElroy and were installed in 2002. Two more, similar 3D maps are in front of Great St Marys - see here. Vernon McElroy was a director of estate management at Cambridge University and a member of the Rotary Club of Cambridge Rutherford. He was a keen sculptor who designed and made these bronze tactile models. They were funded by Cambridge's four Rotary clubs.
The DoubleTree hotel is by the river, at the bottom of Little St Mary's lane. Outside the entrance are three scultures, but I'm afraid that I don't know anything about them. There is an account of them here, but that doesn't know anything about them either!
Red Fringe, East Road
If you start from Parkers Piece and walk along East Road, you will see this immediately on your left, surrounding the entrance to a gated community. It is Red Fringe, by by Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier, dated 2013. It is mentioned here.
Just beyond the previous artwork is this piece also on your left. It is Two Elements uniting to form a Contract, by Colin Rose, dated 2005, and it looks better without the tree getting in the way.
Bird Stones, Mill Road cemetery
In Mill Road cemetery, there are a number of sculptures called Bird Stones. These are by the sculptor Gordon Young in 2014. His website describes the artwork. It says "The work was inspired by the cemetery's bird life. Each of the sculptures celebrates a species and their location found within the space, each work features bird poetry and a description of their calls." There are perches for the birds, and a groove along the top is intended to hold rain water, for the birds to drink. Most of the sculptures are stones, but one is made of wood, from the tree that used to be outside Holy Trinity in Cambridge City centre.