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Research & Collections Programme

Growing research through the convening power of Cambridge’s collections
XRF analysis of Degas sculpture

CHERISH has been awarded £3m from the AHRC’s Capability for Collections (CapCo) Fund. This new funding stream supports targeted, capital investments to renew and upgrade research facilities within UK galleries, libraries, archives and museums, focusing on conservation and heritage science facilities, digital capture equipment and specialist study spaces and reading rooms.

In Cambridge, CHERISH will build on existing departmental collaborations to create a distributed research infrastructure across the University’s world-leading collections. The project will be led by Dr Paola Ricciardi, Senior Research Scientist at the Fitzwilliam Museum, with Professor Marcos Martinón-Torres, Pitt-Rivers Professor of Archaeological Science at the Department of Archaeology. They will work with a cross-departmental, interdisciplinary team, including Dr Suzanne Paul, Keeper of Rare Books and Early Manuscripts at Cambridge University Library; Professor Nicholas Thomas, Director and Curator at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; and Dr Lucy Wrapson, Senior Conservator at the Hamilton Kerr Institute. 

The AHRC’s investment in infrastructure for CHERISH will allow us to refurbish, upgrade and future-proof our distributed infrastructure for research in material culture and collections. Building on existing networks and bottom-up collaborations, and consonant with University strategy, the requested funding will enhance our capacity to document, preserve, understand and share heritage with our diverse audiences and beneficiaries. Explicitly seeking synergies among archaeological science, heritage science and other strands of collections-based research, we are creating a visible national facility that will set standards for the sector and invigorate holistic approaches to heritage. We will - amongst other things - significantly upgrade our facilities for digital and scanning electron microscopy; expand our range of X-ray fluorescence spectrometers, which will allow reliable quantitative analyses as well as large-scale compositional mapping; and enhance our advanced digital imaging infrastructure, including multi-spectral image capture as well as 3D scanning and photogrammetry.

The infrastructural upgrade funded by the CapCo programme will be completed during the first part of 2021. Ongoing oversight of the shared equipment will be offered by the CHERISH Steering Group with support from the wider Research and Collections Programme. 

Further updates on the project will be posted on the CHERISH webpage. If you are interested in learning more and/or in establishing a collaboration with CHERISH, please email

Posted on: Thursday 7 January 2021