Discoveries – Art, Science & Exploration provides a fascinating selection of artistic, historic, scientific, archeological and natural gems selected from the museums in Cambridge University on display at Two Temple Place on the Embankment in London. Artworks range from a plaster cast of the head and shoulders of the Hermes of Praxiteles, the original from the 4th century BC, to contemporary art held at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge. Historic items include a hoard of 41 gold coins of Edward VI, James I (VI of Scotland) and Charles I, discovered when Pembroke College was being constructed and a range of scientific instruments including a DOM, one of 5160 detectors buried in a site of one cubic kilometre deep beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, which together form the giant ‘IceCube Neutrino’ telescope. Natural history specimens include butterflies, fossils and the skeleton of the now-extinct dodo. Modern art includes stunning photographic pirnts by Sophy Rickett who in 2012 was Associate Artist at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge. The exhibition also has a series of prints, books and manuscripts, including Stravinsky’s The Dance of the Lilac Fairy. At the centre of the staircase is a model of DNA; it is interesting that this exhibit should be so near to King’s College London which was also instrumental in the DNA discovery.
It is worth visiting the exhibition just to see the decorated interiors of Two Temple Place, a hidden architectural gem on the riverside, built in medieval style by William Waldorf Astor from 1892 to 1895 and now owned by a charity, The Bulldog Trust.