The Sedgwick Museum is founded on the collection of Dr John Woodward (1665-1728) part of which was bequeathed to the University of Cambridge in 1728. The Woodwardian collection comprises almost 10,000 fossils, rocks, minerals, shells, plants and archaeological and ethnographic artefacts.
His collection includes the specimens described by him in his books An Essay toward a Natural History of the Earth and Terrestrial Bodies, Especially Minerals (1695; 2nd ed. 1702; 3rd ed. 1723) and An Attempt towards a Natural History of the Fossils of England (vol.1 1728; vol.2 1729).
Woodward's collection also includes many of the specimens that had belonged to the Renaissance artist and naturalist Agostino Scilla who described and illustrated them in his book on the origin of fossils - La vana speculazione disingannata dal senso (Vain Speculation Undeceived by Sense, 1670).