Communicating University Museums.
Awareness and Action - University Museums Today

September 25 - 30 2005, Uppsala, Sweden
October 1, Helsinki, Finland

Download Abstracts (Abstracts_UMAC2005.pdf, 590 KB.)


Report: The Museum of Arts & Science at the University of Santo Tomas

Isido Abaño
University of Santo Tomas (UST), Museum of Arts & Science, Manila, Philippines

A Collection in the European Periphery: Vitenskapsmuseet in Trondheim

Håkon With Andersen
Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway

The Museum became a part of the new consolidated University of Trondheim in 1968. However, it grew out of the collection established by the scientific society in Trondheim (Trondhjemske selskab) in 1760, which later got a royal letter of acceptance and changed its name in 1767 to The Royal Norwegian Society of Science and Letters. The original collection is hence a product of the enlightenment and it was the first scientific institution in Norway. The collection developed in several stages through the centuries with a high activity in the first years and in a second period in the second half of the nineteenth century and start of the 20th. In the latter period it became particularly focused on the local flora and fauna together with archaeological findings. When integrated in the University the Museum was by and large accepted as such and worked fairly isolated. In later years their situation in the mass education society has come under pressure.

Don't Have the Big Bucks? Words of Mouth Marketing for University Museums and Small Budgets

Cynthia Ann Bettison
Silver City, New Mexico


University Museums as a Strategic Tool. On Communicating University Values (Introduction Speech)

Lars Burman
Department of Literature, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

Full Text (Burman_2005.pdf, 101 KB.)

Universities have a key position in modern society. But what is a university? And which are the basic values of this medieval organization, constantly reshaping itself, and now spear-heading the development into the twenty-first century? University museums have been a part of the higher education system from early on, and the museums have changed with the universities. But what of the present relation between the universities and their museums? Do universities successfully utilize the possibilities of the material resources and the special competence of their museums? And do the museums succeed in defining and expressing their position within the university system? This speech concentrates on the strategic possibilities of the university museums both within the universities and in relation to society at large. A central assumption is that the museums represent, cultivate and embody a number of university values, and it is maintained that the unique position of the museums offers a chance of communicating these values in an exceptional way. The main problem, however, is to communicate successfully, and this paper tries to highlight problems and possibilities in the area. The claim will be that the problems and their possible solutions lie within the fields of identity, modes of appeal, and, finally, the relation to various audiences.

Keeping for the future

Steven de Clercq
Utrecht, Netherlands

Full Text (DeClercq_2005.pdf, 186 KB.)

Research collections for future use have traditionally been kept by the institutions themselves. Keeping such collections has for many years not been a matter of specific concern: it was just tradition. The size of the collections was generally regarded - and accepted - as measure for its quality and consequently as a reason for it’s funding. Starting roughly halfway through the 19th century, institutionalisation of research collections coincided with the hey-day of object-based research. At that point there is still a close relationship between the field of research and the composition of the collections. Through time research moved on to new fields, with new techniques, allowing new questions, whereas the collections grew and gradually got an archival function; and were sometimes transferred to the museum, or disposed of. Parallel to this development, we see an increased public interest in scientific matters and museums answering to that demand. Some of them, like the South Kensington Science Museum and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, became ‘Museum Castles’ with two distinct departments: research & collections and exhibitions & public. As this development – also in art museums – continues through time, the gap between these two functions increasingly widens; leading in the end to the splitting up of museums into two autonomous organisations, focussing on either collections, or exhibitions; an archival and a public function with a distinct set of required skills for their professional staff. In fact, the development of the Kunst Halle and the Science Centre can be interpreted as such a development on the ‘public’ side, whilst the Darwin Centre at the London Natural History Museum can likewise be interpreted as the ‘archival’ counterpart. The aim of this paper is to explore and discuss the way university museums can respond to these developments, with special emphasis on the question, who is – or should and/or could – be responsible for the material scientific archive, and how and where it should be kept, and made accessible for future use.

University Museum Collections in Christiania (Oslo) in the 19th Century: From the Scientific Forefront to the Education of the Nation

John Peter Collett and Arve Monsen
University of Oslo, Norway

Only a few years after the University of Oslo (then the Royal Frederik University in Christiania) started functioning in 1813, the new institution comprised several collections, some of them established with the university, some predating the university and some being founded by professors shortly after 1813. The collections covered natural sciences (mineralogy, botany, zoology) and medicine (anatomy, surgical instruments, pharmacology) as well as archaeology (the collection of Antique coins, the medieval and prehistorical collection), and even “technology” (the collection of machine models). In its diversity, the range of collections reflected the multitude of functions of the university itself, as well as the importance of collecting and systematizing specimen for the early- 19th century scientific enterprise. In the Linnean era doing natural science more or less equalled collecting and systematizing. In the humanities, the coin collection had a more pronounced pedagogic importance, whereas the national archeological collection initially was most important as a national showcase. By tracing the development of the various collections – and how they gradually expanded into ‘museums’ – we want to illuminate both the changing functions of the collections (what public they aimed at, how they were organized etc), and the changes that occurred in the way that the university (i.e. its professors) looked at the collections in relation to what they perceived to be the primary functions of the university. When the new university building in central Christiania was designed in the 1830s and 1840s, the plans for the Museum naturale expanded in such a way that the natural science collections occupied most of the large central building (which was, in fact, long time known as the Museum naturale or the Museum building, constructed in a way as to be accessible to a large public audience.) Only short time after the building was inaugurated (c. 1850), however, other functions of the university (especially those linked to experimental research) started expanding, and there was a competition for space between collections and laboratories in the university buildings. The museums ‘lost’ the competition, as they were successively moved out of the main university buildings and into separate houses from the beginning of the 20th century. The long – and sometimes heated – debate on the future location of the museums gives an insight into what had by the end of the 19th century become the position of the museums in relation to the way the university defined its scientific and educational aims, between furthering advanced scientific research and educating the public.

Greater Than the Sum of its Parts: A Model for a National Collections Database

Matt Connors
Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Full Text (Connors_2005.pdf, 282 KB.)

This paper suggests a way that the ever-increasing electronic catalogues of individual museums can be discovered by remote researchers and delivered in a way that is meaningful to the researching and ongoing safeguarding of the physical objects. The paper is a summary of my Masters thesis, in which I devise and examine a model for bringing scholarly material out of museum collections, and communicating it with researchers. Drawing on my experience as Project Manager of the Museums and Collections Database for Macquarie University, I examine the motivation to create a National Collections Database. This includes Australian efforts so far, and the metadata schema that have been promoted both locally and internationally (such as the Distributed National Collection and the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting). Building on this, I describe a model in which authorised researchers can query participating museums about its holdings, and for research-quality data to be returned. I describe participation methods suitable for small and large museums. The model’s greatest potential is the capacity to minimise the gap between museums and that traditionally indispensable research tool: the library. To this end, I examine systems that are almost taken for granted in the library environment, systems that could allow museums to be viewed similarly as an essential service in higher education.

Undergraduates and the Ancient Past

Julia Cordova-Gonzales
Universidad de Tarapacá, Museo Arqueológico San Miguel de Azapa, Arica, Chile

Full Text (Cordova-Gonzales2005.pdf, 102 KB.)

Due to shortage of museum educators, interpretive programmes at the San Miguel de Azapa Museum of Archaeology are postponed. In order to overcome the problem, a volunteer programme with the participation of undergraduate students of pedagogy in History and Geography, Universidad de Tarapacá, was organized in 2004. The final evaluation of this appreciated support revealed continuities and discontinuities in museum education, advantages and disadvantages of volunteer participation; whichever the result the beneficiaries enhanced their adventure.

New Roads for University Museums

Gabriela Fong
University Museum of Science and Art, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico

Presentation of the preliminary program for the UMAC conference 2006 under the title "New Roads for University Museums".

The History of the Bergen Museum

Astrid Forland
University of Bergen, Norway

Full Text (Forland_2005.pdf, 148 KB.)

The presentation will give an overview of the history of the Bergen Museum from its creation in 1825 until the foundation of the University of Bergen in 1946. In the course of this time span the function of the museum went through considerable changes. At the turn of the century the museum had developed a relatively distinct institutional profile, with an emphasis both on research and the diffusion of knowledge, thus laying the basis for the later foundation of the University.The presentation will argue that one continuously important factor for the development of the museum was the fact that it was firmly embedded in the Bergen bourgeois society.

Tromsö Museum

Narve Fulsås
Tromsö, Norway

Full Text (Fulsas_2005.pdf, 106 KB.)

Macquarie University Sculpture Park: Promoting its Value to Ensure its Continued Development

Kiralynne Hill
Art Gallery and Sculpture Park Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Full Text (Hill_2005.pdf, 169 KB.)

The benefits university museums and collections have to offer students, staff and the broader community, have been identified and discussed many times previously. The opportunities university museums and collections provide for both the staff responsible for them as well as the people that utilise them, are numerous. Yet these opportunities need to be visible in order to become recognised and valued, in the highly competitive university environment where museums/collections, teaching units and other services are vying for financial support. The Macquarie University Sculpture Park is not exempt from these requirements. It needs to be known and valued, both on and off campus, to ensure its continued development. The Park’s profile is essential to it’s existence. This paper will initially outline the development ofuniversity sculpture parks in Australia and how they have provided cultural and educational benefits for both on and off campus communities. Macquarie’s Sculpture Park is then discussed and analysed regarding the three areas of the university’s core business, namelyteaching/learning, research and outreach. An assessment regarding it’s profile and value is then made.

The Singapore Example

Christine Khor Seok Kee
National University of Singapore (NUS) Centre of the Arts, Singapore

Full Text (Khor_2005.pdf, 182 KB.)

The Collections of St Andrews University in Scotland: Issues in University Heritage

Zenobia Rae Kozak
University of St Andrews, Scotland

Full Text (Kozak_2005.pdf, 168 KB.)

The collections of Scotland's most ancient university, St Andrews, include items of institutional and even international significance, treasures of didactic and aesthetic merit. St Andrews' collections categorizations are unique among British universities. As the only university in the UK to formally recognize 'heritage' collections, St Andrews demonstrates an understanding and appreciation for its institutional identity. These objects and collections of heritage form the distinctive identity of St Andrews as an ancient university, yet the University's attitude towards the role and future of heritage collections within the institution may provide the sector with a new approach to 'university heritage.' As the Museum Collections Unit of St Andrews embarks on a new phase in the use and display of their heritage collections, with a new museum in the stages of planning, I seek to explore the following questions: How has the concept of 'university heritage' developed and what purpose does an institutional collection of 'heritage' serve beyond preserving or representing the history of an institute of higher education? This two-part paper will address the conceptual and terminological difficulties related to 'university heritage' and introduce new methods of heritage recognition.

LINNE: Legacy Infrastructure Network for Natural Environments

Michael A. Mares
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, Oklahoma, USA

The goal of LINNE is to accelerate taxonomic research so that reliable information on biological diversity is available to all branches of science and society. LINNE will be an interactive network of taxonomists and institutions incorporating the latest technologies to seamlessly link researchers with other scientists, biological collections and other research facilities, and state-of-the-art instruments for efficient species discovery, description, identification, and classification. LINNE will revitalize collections, transform taxonomy and make comprehensive information on the world’s species easily accessible to researchers, educators, and decision-makers who depend on knowledge of biological diversity. With LINNE, fundamental questions in biology will be answered, including: What are Earth’s species, and how do they vary? How are species distributed in geographical and ecological space? What is the history of life on Earth, and how are species interrelated? How has biological diversity changed through space and time? What is the history of character transformations? What factors lead to speciation, dispersal, and extinction? Nodes of the LINNE network will be existing institutions with biological collections and taxonomic research programs. The network will be distributed across the nation, and resources at each node (e.g., specimens, images, literature, DNA labs) will be available to researchers, educators, and policy-makers everywhere via the Internet. LINNE will modernize infrastructure for taxonomic research, enhance the nation’s taxonomic workforce, modernize collection facilities, and update and verify specimen identi- fications. LINNE will support and benefit from linkages to a wide range of activities in ecology, ecosystem science, bioinformatics, information sciences, geology, land planning, and resource management, including NEON (National Ecological Observatory Net- work), GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility), and CHRONOS (an Interactive Network of Data and Tools for Earth System History). Eventually, LINNE will be connected to similar international systems that are in development.

Exposing the Ivory Tower

Pierre de Maret
Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

Full Text (Maret_2005.pdf, 54 KB.)

The Fate of Neglected Collections

Geoffrey Metz
Museum Gustavianum, Uppsala University, Sweden

University museums play a key role in the preservation of academic heritage. However, many objects and collections of potentially high scientific and historical value are neglected, deaccessioned and even discarded by university institutes when it is deemed that they are of little or no interest. This kind of obsolete object or collection could be vital source material for contemporary or future analysis techniques. Not only is the scientific usefulness of old collections renewed by allowing them to function within new fields, but public awareness of their existence and a possibility for experience on the part of a broad audience can be achieved. Historic and current examples of this phenomenon will be presented and analyzed.

A Bit of Iron and Lots of Wood - Short History of the Finnish Science. Images of a Nation

Panu Nykänen
Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki, Finland

Report: Réseau des Museés de l'Universitée Libre des Bruxelles

Nathaly Nyst
Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

Text in French (Gasparon&Nyst_2005.pdf, 152 KB.)

Text in English (Gasparon&Nyst_English.pdf, 85 KB.)

Integrating University Museums into Museum Studies Programs

Andrew Simpson
Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

University collections have traditionally been developed to support teaching and learning programs within certain academic disciplines. Large collections can also act as a focus for research, either through the acquisition of new objects or specimens, or as a comparative framework for new investigations. When collections develop into museums with associated exhibition programs they then embrace the third function of outreach or community engagement on behalf of the host institution. In times of fiscal constraint this third function can sometimes be considered as outside the “core business” of the host institution. The introduction of multidisciplinary Museum Studies programs, therefore, aligns campus museums to a teaching and learning role beyond their specific academic disciplines. This is important for those universities whose funding levels are tied to student enrolment formulas. Other benefits to be derived from such a strategy include more fully utilising the skills of campus museum practitioners, greater opportunities for collaborative ventures between campus museums, the use of postgraduate interns for project specific tasks within campus museums and a greater scope for connections with organizations outside of the university. As an international organization, UMAC is well placed to foster the exchange of postgraduate Museum Studies students. The develop- ment of cross-cultural learning experiences is invaluable for museum workers of the future in a globalised world. The development of undergraduate and postgraduate Museum Studies programs at Macquarie University (Australia) and the resulting benefits to a variety of stakeholders is discussed.

Report: New Exhibition Projects at the University Museum Groningen

Rolf ter Sluis
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Universiteitsmuseum, Groningen, The Netherlands

Full Text (TerSluis_2005.pdf, 133 KB.)

Communicating Scientific Heritage: University Museum of the University Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg

Sébastien Soubiran
University Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France

The Mission de culture scientifique et technique of the University Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg is in charge of the communication and the diffusion of scientific culture. Among various activities this department administered the very rich research and pedagogical collections of the university constituted mainly during the German period from 1870 to 1918. Most of the collections are conserved in five museums. Only two are permanently open to the public, the other three are partially open or on demand. It is part of the activities of the Mission in collaboration with museum curators to organise exhibits, special visits or events so as to make those collections open to general public. The ambition is now the setting of a coordinate policy for the preservation of the university scientific heritage. It is this general policy that I will discuss and present.

The Representation of Loss - on the Meaning of Exhibitions

Kerstin Smeds
Department of Culture and Media, University of Umeå, Sweden

The starting point is the Museum; the collections and exhibitions in museums. What are they, in the first place? Why do we make exhibitions, and what for? We could deal with Reality in many ways, but one important form we have chosen to do this in, is exhibitions. We are furnishing and interpreting Reality with the aid of exhibitions. Through exhibitions we are also desperately trying to freeze Time and regain our losses. In this paper I will discuss this word, this concept, the “exhibitionary complex”. I will follow the development of the exhibition as a means of ordering the world and communicating knowledge and research. The exhibition as a means of making research, and our interpretation of the world, intelligible and visible. The exhibition is part of the System of “looks” in the modern Western world. It is an allegory of the sense of sight, and of the cartographic reason.
Leaving here the Kunstkammer of the Renaissance behind, I am going to start with the taxonomic systems of representation in the 18th century, go on with the implication of Narration, Text and Didactics into these systems, and end up with a reflexive, post-structuralist exhibitionary paradigm of today – a sort of tracing or “surfing” through a landscape of variable knowledge. I will examine all these paradigms from an episte-mological point of view, and also discuss in which ways universities and museums benefit from and fertilize one another.
Universities have a key position in modern society. But what is a university? And which are the basic values of this medieval organization, constantly reshaping itself, and now spear-heading the development into the twenty-first century? University museums have been a part of the higher education system from early on, and the museums have changed with the universities. But what of the present relation between the universities and their museums? Do universities successfully utilize the possibilities of the material resources and the special competence of their museums? And do the museums succeed in defining and expressing their position within the university system? This speech concentrates on the strategic possibilities of the university museums both within the universities and in relation to society at large. A central assumption is that the museums represent, cultivate and embody a number of university values, and it is maintained that the unique position of the museums offers a chance of communicating these values in an exceptional way. The main problem, however, is to communicate successfully, and this paper tries to highlight problems and possibilities in the area. The claim will be that the problems and their possible solutions lie within the fields of identity, modes of appeal, and, finally, the relation to various audiences.

Who's afraid of the recent biomedical heritage?

Thomas Söderqvist
Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Full Text (Soderqvist_2005.pdf, 126 KB.)

As biomedicine - the fusion of cell biology, molecular biology and information technology with clinical diagnostics and therapeutics - is emerging as a significant part of contemporary society and culture, it is time for university museums to take biomedicalization seriously. The Medical Museion at the University of Copenhagen is presently coping with the museological problems that are raised in making sense of recent biomedical artefacts. Traditionally, museums deal with tangible material objects: good medical museum artefacts are concrete, sensual and spectacular, they are immediately understandable; they elicit memories, and evoke emotions. The emergence of recent biomedicine, however, challenges this classical notion of material objects as familiar, tangible, and sensuous. Today's biomedical objects are abstract, non-tangible, and difficult to understand; they elicit few memories and hardly evokeany emotions. The challenges of recent biomedicine to university museums is illustrated with reference to three examples: gene microarray analysis, PET scanning, and molecular therapy. The paper concludes that medical museums today are caught in a paradox. On the one hand, biomedical research and technology fills more and more of our lives, from the neonatal care unit to the threshold of the grave. On the other hand, the whole idea of what constitutes a medical museum collection and what is displayable in a medical museum exhibition becomes questionable.

The Valorisation and Communication of the University Scientific Patrimony. The Characteristics of the Palazzo Poggi Museum at the University of Bologna

Walter Tega
Bologna University Museum of Palazzo Poggi, Bologna, Italy

Full Text (Tega2005.pdf, 157 KB.)

Setting up a new University Museum: Problems and Challenges. The Example of Patras University Science and Technology Museum

Peny Theologi-Gouti
Patras University, University Science and Technology Museum, Patras, Greece

Patras University Science and Technology Museum is a new Museum organized by Patras University. The organization of the Museum started in 1998 by enriching, documenting and conserving the museum collections, setting up standards for the new building, selecting the best museum project proposed, starting the construction of the building and creating the museum’s legal status, function and cooperative relationships. Since then, the museum has had to face many challenges and problems concerning funding, the building, the opening, collaborations with the academic community and society, staff, using volunteers etc. The first part of the Museum building is now ready. This first part is too small to present a permanent exhibition. So, the Museum will be open to the public in late 2006, by presenting only a thematic exhibition under the theme “Telecommunications in our lives”. The exhibition will last two years and will be accompanied by educational programs and activities for adults. Professors from Patras University specialized in telecommunications are involved in the organization of this exhibition, as well as a number of students and volunteers from the university staff. The museum also has a good collection of objects concerning telecommunications and collaborates with the state Telecommunication Company and the Museum of Telecommunications of this company, for loaning in objects and for expertise. The Ministry of Education, the Region of Western Greece and probably the Ministry of Development will fund the exhibition. In parallel, the museum is raising its profile within the university community and the general public. It is looking for funding to continue the construction of the other part of the building, it is continuously enriching the collections and searching for the theme of its new exhibition and it is making efforts to enrich the staff. At this time contacts with education agencies, schools, government and others, that may be interested in the museum or may be of help, are being made.

New Models For Museums. Establishing an On-line, Distance Learning, Museum Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma

Peter B. Tirrell
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, Oklahoma, USA

Full Text (Tirrell_2005.pdf, 170 KB.)

The University of Oklahoma has created a Museum Studies Program Online and dropped its campus-based museum studies program after 15 years of operation. What was the rationale for changing from an on-campus to an on-line program? What are the advantages and disadvantages, and how successful is it? The new program allows students to obtain a Master of Liberal Studies through distance learning with some options for campus-based studies such as internships. The program was developed with input from staff that is working in museums, archives and collections at the university; they also teach the courses. The methods and results of evaluation are presented. Indications are that it is highly attractive to museum professionals who have jobs in the field and want to increase their knowledge of museum practices as well as their marketability. The number of students is increasing and the program is adding courses. Advantages of the program include accessibility to students worldwide. It is attracting students from all over the United States and several other countries. Not only are students able to interact with others, but professors gain insight with students’ wide range of backgrounds, training and experiences. Comparisons also are made to other fledging on-line museum programs, a growing trend in the United States.

Marketing University Museums: Some Do s and Don't s in Communicating our Product to the Consumer

Dominick Verschelde
Zoology Museum Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

There are many different ways of communicating and promoting onés product towards the consumer. The level of success can be enhanced by following some basic roles of good marketing. For University Museums and Collections it can be extra challenging to sell their scientific, natural and cultural products. But even in this case, applying the ground rules of marketing and communication can give a fruitful result. Well-considered marketing involves good quality control on a regular basis. Only then, will the result be optimal. In this paper, the Ghent University Zoology Museum is used as an example for showing in which way we can use marketing as a tool in communicating our scientific, natural and cultural heritage to the general public and even to ourselves.

Report: Survey of historical objects and collections at the Nowegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway

Roland Wittje
Department of Physics, Nowegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

From fall 2004 to summer 2005 Roland Wittje, Ola Nordal and Elisabeth Egholm Jacobsen carried out a survey of historical objects and collections at all departments of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. The survey was part of the Forum for the history of knowledge and supervised in co-operation with Axel Christophersen of the Museum of Natural History and Archaeology (Viteskapsmuseet), which is part of NTNU. The survey was done to get an overview over until then unregistered and unknown objects and collections, almost all of them 20th century, and to give some empirical data for establishing a central collection policy at NTNU. A report was published in Norwegian in October 2005 (Wittje & Nordal 2005).
(Roland Wittje and Ola Nordal: 'Universitetshistoriske samlinger ved NTNU' Forum for kunnskapshistorie skrifter no. 4. Trondheim: Tapir akademisk forlag, 2005.)

Poster: University Collections in Germany: Research on their Holdings and History

Cornelia Weber
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany

Nearly every German university possesses scientific collections and museums in various departments. Their functions are manifold: on the one hand, they establish a basis for research and education; on the other hand, they often serve as mediators of science to the general public. The exploration of these collections could reveal many valuable details regarding the history of science. However, university collections have not been considered an object of research in Germany to date and neither a complete survey of holdings, nor a fundamental interdisciplinary treatise on the history of university collections exists. The project intends to catalogue German universities' collections and to compile extensive data on the holdings and history of these collections, in order to form the basis of a specific investigation into the history of science and a historical analysis of collecting. The university collections and museums in Germany, identified to date, are recorded in the online-database 'University museums and collections in Germany'