Pembroke Opens Its Doors!

Professor Dame Clare Grey points at a screen showing her presentation, standing in front of an attentive audience.

A benevolent side to larger capital projects today requires a commitment for the development to serve and engage the local community. Accordingly, almost three months to the day after the private June opening for donors, to coincide with Cambridge’s annual “alumni weekend”, on the third Saturday of September, Pembroke officially welcomed members of the public into ‘Phase 1’ of the Mill Lane site with the free ‘Open Doors’ festival.

From 11am, Pembroke hosted an academic showcase for members of the public of all ages – from school children, to retirees and tourists. Many groups booked in advance, or discovered a fascinating surprise as they passed by on their Saturday constitutional.

Guests funnelled into 4 Mill Lane to enjoy a series of mini 10-minute lectures from two dozen Fellows on a wide array of topics, from harnessing the brain’s power to alleviate pain, to impersonating a saint in Boccaccio’s Decameron.

Throughout the afternoon, guests could visit the new Exhibition Room above the Gatehouse hosting ‘Engaging Pembroke’ with pieces curated by Pembroke Directors of Studies in History of Art and Management Studies, Professor Polly Blakesley and Dr Simon Learmount.

Professor Blakesley officially opened the inaugural exhibition with a brief talk on its inspiration. Cambridge-based artists Xinyi Bi, Rebecca Ilett and Idit Nathan had been invited to respond to the brief of ‘bringing Pembroke College’s site, spaces, history and communities into dialogue with the work of contemporary artists.’ Their imaginative responses created new insights into the work and fabric of Pembroke life.

In the later afternoon, our Haworth Tompkins architects, Beatie Blakemore and Hannah Constantine, then took guests on a tour of the ‘Phase 1’ Mill Lane site, explaining the strategy behind the construction or conversion of each area.

The day concluded with a conversation between our Artist-in-Residence Alison Turnbull, and curator Harriet Loffler, discussing Alison’s work on the Mill Lane site, what prompted her vision, her process and how it may differ from what you’d expect!

On Saturday and Sunday multiple ‘Tender Stones’ dance workshops for adults and families were hosted with contemporary dance artist Lucy Suggate. The workshops encouraged participants to undertake the physically poetic exercise of “making stone” using drawing, paper and sculpture, inspired by Pembroke College’s original medieval site and the freshly built ‘Phase 1’.

More broadly, the College looks forward to continuing to do what it has always done – hosting musical performances, lectures and having an accessible site and gardens for members of the public to enjoy free of charge. The developed Mill Lane site will allow us to do this on a grander scale and to reach more people. As the completion of the site grows, we delight in welcoming even greater numbers from the local community and those visiting Cambridge.

Photos: Keith Heppell