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New-look Cambridge Museum of Technology to open its doors again soon


By Adrian Curtis


The Museum of Technology is aiming for an Easter reopening after £1.6million worth of funding that will help transform it into one of the top visitor attractions in the city.

With the help of other grant providers, including the city council and Historic England, the museum is getting ready to return as a multi-purpose venue, while maintaining the site as a centre for industrial heritage.

The new-look museum will boast an exhibition space, meeting room space and a café and tea room.

Formerly the Old Pumping Station, the building was constructed as a solution, in 1894, to deal with problems of waste.

It burnt the town’s rubbish in furnaces called destructors, which heated water in boilers to make steam that powered engines to pump the city’s sewage to Milton.

The station was at the cutting edge of technology and the Engineer’s House was the first in the city to be powered by electricity.

But the relaunch will see a museum fit for the future and includes improved disabled access, allied to atmospheric lighting, sounds and audio visual displays.

There will also be dressing up and hands-on fun for younger visitors, offering them the chance to learn all about the history of the museum.

Pam Halls, curator of the Museum of Technology in Cambridge, with the old boiler which is being rebuilt to power the pumps on 'steam days'. Picture: Keith Heppell
Pam Halls, curator of the Museum of Technology in Cambridge, with the old boiler which is being rebuilt to power the pumps on 'steam days'. Picture: Keith Heppell

Museum curator Pam Halls is in no doubt what the revamped site will mean to the staff, volunteers and most important of all the residents of Cambridge and beyond.

She said: “It is quite a major development. The whole site has been pulled around but one element is a whole new building which will allow us to exhibit items that have never been on display before. It will be available for community use and meetings.

“The exhibitions will start being put into it in January and, if all goes well, we should be opening in the spring, that is still a targeted date at the moment."

Pam continued: “We have got stuff from Pye and Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company – it is groundbreaking stuff from the 20th century, but we couldn’t display them in a place designed to take the waste water of Cambridge. The new building means we can do that.

“We also had to put a cap on the number of school children on visits because you can’t have 60 children and no decent toilets, but now we have toilets and warmth."

She added: “We want to use our collections as a great tool to inspire future generations. It will transform the visitor experience. It has been very frustrating not being able to show items sitting on shelves or in storage containers.

“In our new building they will be in purpose-built cases and we’ll be looking after them better than ever. We’ve already got a year’s worth of activities planned."



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