© 2016 Author(s). X-ray absorption spectroscopy is an element-specific technique for probing the local atomic-scale environment around an absorber atom. It is widely used to investigate the structures of liquids and solids, being especially valuable for characterization of solid-supported catalysts. Reported cell designs are limited in capabilities - to fluorescence or transmission and to static or flowing atmospheres, or to vacuum. Our goal was to design a robust and widely applicable cell for catalyst characterizations under all these conditions - to allow tracking of changes during genesis and during operation, both under vacuum and in reactive atmospheres. Herein, we report the design of such a cell and a demonstration of its operation both with a sample under dynamic vacuum and in the presence of gases flowing at temperatures up to 300 °C, showing data obtained with both fluorescence and transmission detection. The cell allows more flexibility in catalyst characterization than any reported.