Intensifying Support For and Increasing Audiences in University Museums and Collections.
Photograph by James M. Edmonson, Dittrick Medical History
Center and Museum, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.
The first meeting of UMAC was held in Barcelona on 2-4 July 2001.
Please click on the icon for the full text of a conference paper.
Monday 2 July 2001
Sue-Anne Wallace: Challenges Facing University Museums.
Universities have apparently enthusiastically embraced new ventures in taking on
the responsibilities of cultural institutions, such as museums and theatres.
Museums especially have long been integral to campuses, growing out of teaching
collections, particularly in the fields of science - for herbaria and medical
collections on the one hand; and the humanities - for antiquities and art
collections on the other. Indeed, art collections have occasionally developed
independently from the teaching and learning functions of universities, posing
questions about their 'fit' with the core business of the contemporary, corporate
Pasquale Tucci: Role of UMs in Disseminating Scientific Culture.
Starting from the definition of scientific museums as material context where
scientific and technological artifacts are preserved and scientific culture is
elaborated and disseminated, I'll try to sketch the different ways in which
museums of history of science and science museums accomplish their task.
University museums, due the way in which they are formed, have some features
common to both of kinds of museums. They can play the role in researching and
promoting innovation in scientific museology and museography above all as regards
to dissemination of scientific culture.
Bonnie Kelm: Museum Ethics -- Implications for University Museums.
As museums become more visible and accountable to the public, it is important
that the actions taken by their leaders be "transparent" and meet the highest
ethical standards. Over the past several years, American Association of Museums
(AAM) task forces have recommended, and the AAM Board has approved two important
sets of guidelines - one concerning the unlawful appropriation of objects during
the Nazi era and the second focusing on exhibiting borrowed objects. Both sets of
guidelines make specific recommendations that delineate the scope of ethical
activity in professional museums. These guidelines present special challenges for
university museums, which will be discussed in this paper.
Michael Mares: Miracle on the Prairies.
In 1983 the University of Oklahoma's museum began a struggle for a new building.
The century-old museum was housed in barns and stables. The University provided
mixed support. Grassroots efforts and a multifaceted strategy led to a successful
result in 2000, after 17 difficult years requiring patience and tenacity.
Tuesday 3 July 2001
Theme: Intensifying Support, with and between universities,
from city, community, funding bodies & links to university research.
Keynote Address: Professor Di Yerbury (Vice-Chancellor, Macquarie Univ., NSW)
Intensifying Support for Australian University Museums.
This paper will address a number of processes through which the Australian
university sector attempted to transform a position characterised by relative
ignorance and generally benign neglect into one of recognition, strategic
positioning and funding security. It will seek to identify the relative success
(or otherwise) of different approaches and to contextualise their outcomes.
Marta Lourenço: Are UM's Still Meaningful?
The contemporary significance of university collections and the changing role of
university museums has not been the subject of thorough scientific research. This
paper presents the outline of a research project to be carried out during the
next few years, which seeks to place these and other topics in the perspective of
recent developments in public universities in Western Europe in general, and
Portugal in particular. The communication also presents the results of an inquiry
among a number of European university museums (2000), aimed at establishing a
context for the research.
Bernard Van den Driessche: Louvain-la-Neuve: where a university created a town with a museum.
The museum of Louvain-la-Neuve was inaugurated in 1979. The collections
(originaly cast reproductions started in 1864) includes Fine art, Archaeology and
Ethnography. The university city, designed on a human scale and entirely
pedestrianized, has approximately 30,000 inhabitants, 15,000 of whom are
students. A new building (4.000 square meters) will be erected in the city center
and open in 2003.
Nick Merriman: Current State of the UK's HEMGCs.
The paper will summarise the current state of the UK's higher education museums,
galleries and collections (HEMGCs) by drawing on recent surveys of collections
and management issues. In particular the paper will highlight some of the
innovative ways in which HEMGCs have been working in partnership with others and
roadening their audiences.
Cornelia Weber: From Independent University Collections to a "Wissenstheater".
The Humboldt University owns over one hundred separate collections from all
spheres of knowledge. Most of them are scarcely accessible to the general public
and thus not well known. Since 1995 a group of scientists is engaged in opening
up and presenting these collections (public lectures, construction of database,
exhibition "Theatre of Nature and Art; Treasure-trove of Knowledge", seminars
with students). In the last three years the hidden treasures were systematically
and successfully presented to the general public. Now the Humboldt University is
planning a science museum exhibiting a selection of the whole spectrum of
collections and demonstrating the points of contact between the different
Fausto Pugnaloni: Academic Heritage & Young Universities.
The project of a Regional network of University Museums in the Marche, central
Italy, promoted by the Universit of Ancona, is aimed to create an integrated
cooperation structure based on the different experiences in the history of the
single Universities. To enhance the scientific research and the academic and
cultural heritage in the young Universities (as in the Marche), the project
focuses on the cooperation with the local authorities and with the Regional
Museums System. The University collections and the history of the research meet
the territory with its complexity and richness, through selected research items:
- The evolution of the health system from the medieval hospitals onwards;
The above project is seen also as a model to extend the cooperation to the
Adriatic region (Croatia, Slovenia, Albania, Greece, ...) to enhance the scientific
and artistic heritage of that culture.
- Work and technics in the pre-industrial age;
- The evolution of the rural landscape;
- Archives, architecture and city;
- Naturalist collections and control of the territory.
Eduardo Ramirez: Video Recordings & Collections Management.
The aim of this presentation/paper is to present our experiences in museum video
documentation and start discussion on future standards and procedures for video
(multimedia) recording, storage and exchange at our Natural History and Science
Museums. The procedures describe here can apply to all other museums. Museums are
facing problems of limited funding for storage and displaying collections.
Moreover, in view of the emerging Broadband networks, many museum would like to
electronically share collections for research or display purposes. This paper
presents a proposal and procedures for the use of video recording as multimedia
items for the new millennium. A procedure for video recording is described here
with suggestions for the best video encoded format for info extracting (OCR,
morphological post processing, etc), and internet transmission. To show some
examples, an URL address with demo video documents will be provided. Finally, it
will be proposed a global video-database to assist small museum with limited
Rafaella Similli: The Palazzo Poggi Project - Reconstructing Science.
Nuria Sanz: Europe, a Common Heritage, the Route of Ancient Universities in Europe and
Antonio Garcia Belmar: Spanish University Museums and the History of
Sonya Finnigan: Exposing the Museums and
Collections at Macquarie University.
Wednesday 4 July 2001
Theme: Increasing Audiences, incl academic/student, local, specialised, new & international.
Keynote Address: Dominique Ferriot. Increasing Audiences.
For a long time, university-based museums have given priority to a public of
students and researchers who have already acquired a minimum of culture in the
fields in question: for example, engineers at the Conservatoire des Arts et
Métiers in Paris, or medical students for the anatomy collections housed in
Universities. The conditions in which these - often numerous - publics have been
received has allowed them to develop research projects and consider the
historical collections as material for innovation. Nowadays, university museums
are faced with a dual demand: that of researchers wishing to have access to
premises suited to the consultation and study of the collection, which has led to
the creation of new tools, "visitable reserve stores", which also group together
the restoration workshops or the indispensable photo laboratory; and that of the
"public at large" whose general knowledge is often weaker is the field in
question and who wish to discover a pleasant place equipped with the appropriate
educational systems. Since many university museums were set up on historical
sites, there is often a need to devise and complete a general renovation project
that recreates a whole new exhibition design while preserving "the spirit of the
place". Within the institution's walls however, human mediation remains
irreplaceable in science museums where "demonstrators" can set the instruments
and machines in operation. Outside its walls, "knowledge screens", and in
particular the Internet, are remarkable tools in providing a maximum of people
with access to information on the collection. A few examples will be developed to
illustrate this idea, while not concealing the operational problems faced by
museums which, for the most part, do not have the level of management autonomy
required to deal with the legitimate expectations of the broader public.
Lyndel King: Engaging University Students.
The hardest audience for university museums to engage is often the one closest at
hand - university students. There is much competition for the time of our 40,000
students. Most work, at least part time, and they live in a large urban area.
Studies show that most have not regularly attended a museum before they enter
university. Our attendance is 150,000 annually, educate all students, not just
those studying art or related disciplines. They include collaborating with
student organizations; engaging faculty from diverse disciplines to make
assignments and hold classes in the museum; inviting students to social events
(such as dances for new students to meet each other) that also involve looking at
art; collaborating with unlikely departments (such as chemical engineering and
materials sciences) to sponsor lectures (on topics such as elegance in the arts
and sciences) and other programs; and offering cash prizes for student essays
about art on display. While our initial success might have been the attraction of
our new Frank Gehry designed facility (1993) continued success involves programs.
My paper will describe ways for university museums to widen student audiences,
particu-larly from non-art students.
Marilyn Norcini: Reorganising University of Pennsylvania Museums.
Of interest to our discussion of university museums, is the recent and on-going
reorganization of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Our institutional
change is directly pertinent to the ICOM conference theme. The change is from the
management of collections by professional museum staff to a faculty
administrator. The Director wants me to continue my studies of university museums
and indigenous forms of community museums. My intellectual interests in both
fields focus on defining the core community (stakeholders), relations of
collections to the stakeholders, and structural issues of governance.
Sally MacDonald: Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaelogy.
The Petrie Museum has conducted significant quantitative and qualitative research
with academic audiences and with the general public, and is experimenting with
new ways of presenting its collections to address a broader audience. Ancient
Egypt: Digging for Dreams is one such experiment - a travelling exhibition of
objects from the collection showing at public galleries in London and Glasgow.
This paper looks at public and academic responses to the exhibition and some of
the issues these raise for the university museum.
Adriana Mortara Almeida: University Art Museums in Brazil.
I intend to compare the number of visitors in Brazilian university and
non-university art museums and explain how universities strive to increase their
audiences, inside the university community (sometimes old/new audi-ences) and
outside - school groups, professors, elderly people, etc. (sometimes new/old
Ofra Keinan: Museums & Immigrant Absorption.
This research study is part of a wider research project which is directed to
understanding the role and contribution of the museum for immigrant absorption /
emigration in the modern society. The wide-reaching goal of this research is to
examine this question through a comparative study of different societies, which
include museums with a definite cultural direction. This article examines the
theoretical aspect as well as offers an analysis of the role and contribution of
the museum in three museums in the State of Israel, during the last decade of the
20th century. The museum, as an institution, exists within modern culture. As
such it creates a process in which society "faces unremitting questions about
whom they [the museums] are for, what and for whom their roles should be" (Sharon
Macdonald, 1996). Over the last decade, during the evolution of the "World
Village", many changes have occurred in the traditional museum, which brought
about the development of new museum interests. Museums began to deal with
controversial issues, according museum expression to new population groups that
had not previously been able to achieve museum attention. These processes have
special implications in the State of Israel, in which groups of immigrants from
many diverse countries have gathered; each with a specific life style which
reflects their source of origin. The principle goal of this research study is to
examine the manner in which the museum functions or can function as a tool for
Peter Tirrell: University Museum as Social Enterprise.
The ultimate operational objective for museums-their bottom line-is a positive
social outcome or an improvement in the quality of life. Museums must demonstrate
that these outcomes are being achieved on a consistent basis. There are no safety
nets for worn-out and out-dated institutions. How can the university museums
develop solid managerial techniques and creative strategies to be efficient and
effective in meeting new economic and social challenges?
Carol Mayer: Seduction & Abandonment - Collaboration with Communities.
For many communities collaboration with museums has been litle more than a
process of repeated seduction and abandonment. Once I have explained what I mean
by this I will discuss an ongoing collaboration between the Museum of
Anthropology University of British Columbia) and some Pacific Islands
communities whose material culture is represented in the museum's collection. I
will illustrate how ideas about collaboration have changed over the years, and
how these have initiated a rethinking of the curatorial prerogative.
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Last update: 18 September 2001.
Peter Stanbury, OAM, PhD Museums, Collections & Heritage
Vice Chancellor's Office
Macquarie University NSW 2109 Australia
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