Colin Forbes Building - Reuniting our important rock collections under one roof

Much of the Sedgwick Museum’s working geological collections, central to the research of many in the department and wider community, are currently housed in cramped and difficult conditions in the Atlas Building on the West Cambridge site. This building, at one time used by Shorts for the refurbishment of aircraft bombers, is a rather dilapidated former commercial unit fast approaching the end of its useful life. The newly proposed Colin  Forbes Building will adjoin the A.G. Brighton Building (the Sedgwick Museum’s conservation unit and Archive) and vastly improve accessibility.

Support this project

If you would like to discuss how you might contribute to the Sedgwick Museum Collections Store, please contact Professor Richard Harrison, Head of Department.

To make a donation to the Sedgwick Museum Collections Store please visit our online giving page.

UK tax payers can use Gift Aid to make a donation worth more. For every pound you give, the department gains an extra 25 pence from HM Revenue and Customs, at no extra cost to yourself, this is of enormous benefit.


Updates
  • 'The view from my window' - October 2018 - February 2019

    Sarah Wallace-Johnson, the Museum’s Conservator, updates us on progress with the Forbes Building at West Cambridge:

    Taking shape outside my office is the Sedgwick Museum’s new facility for storing its rock collections and some of the larger fossils that are currently housed in storage that makes access to them difficult.  Once completed, it will provide high-quality, high-density, climate controlled storage for this internationally important collection.   Bringing several collections together into this purpose-built space will mean that specimens will be much more accessible for research, while the building will provide enhanced facilities for research workers.  We will be able to host public events and show people around our collections in a way that we can’t do at the moment. 

    Building started in October, and for the first three months, the project focused almost entirely on laying the foundations and floor: they are complex and built to a high specification due to the weight of the rock collection that they need to support.  During pile-driving for the foundations, we were able to collect fossils from the clay found deep below the building, and look forward to using them in future public engagement projects. 

    Now, in March, the steel frame has been erected, bricklaying has started and the roof is going on.    Behind the scenes we are planning the move.  More than 350,000 rocks, weighing more 150,000kg will need to be carefully packed and transported across West Cambridge.  They are rocks from all over the world, amassed over the last 200 years. The collection is still growing, added to by many researchers working in the dynamic field of Earth Sciences.   A project like this takes huge amount of planning, and there will be many opportunities for volunteers to get involved in this exciting project – watch this space.

 
  • Breaking Ground - Construction of a new geological collections store at Madingley Rise started this morning, 22nd October 2018. The store will adjoin the A.G. Brighton Building and be known as the Colin Forbes Building. Construction work is expected to continue for 40 weeks. We will then start the immense task of moving over 100,000 specimens of rocks and fossils from the Atlas Building in west Cambridge. This is a hugely exciting development for the Sedgwick Museum and the Dept of Earth Sciences as it will bring together the hand specimens and corresponding thin sections of rocks under one roof. This includes the Harker, Sedgwick, Dawson and Svalbard collections. The scientific value of the world-renowned collections, which date back to the early 1800s, is immense both to current research and also to the history of science. 

  • 'A new geological store' - read about the background to the new build



Back at the beginning of lock down the Getty museum challenged us to recreate famous works of art with objects from around the home (#GettyMuseumChallenge). As soon as I heard about it I knew I had to make the Duria Antiquior. Despite it’s size, you might have missed the ‘Duria’, high up on a wall in the Jurassic pond area of the museum.




University of Cambridge Museums (UCM) create 28 page Explore and Create pack for families in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.



One of the questions most frequently asked by visitors to the Sedgwick Museum is what exactly are fossils and how do they form? This question also fascinated Agostino Scilla (1629-1700); an artist who lived in the Sicilian town of Messina during the 1600s. Scilla attempted to answer this question in his book La vana speculazione disingannata dal senso (Vain Speculation Undeceived by Sense), published in Naples in 1670.