New Year: Best Wishes from the Chair


Dear UMAC members and friends,

It’s that time of the year when we distribute good wishes. But this year it does not feel like it usually does, does it?

The strangeness is not only about the changed plans or the cancelled or postponed activities in 2020.

Yes, we adapted. UMAC cancelled the University Museum Training Week Shanghai 2020 and so many other initiatives with local partners in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas. Like so many conferences and events around the world, our 2020 Annual Conference in Sydney Australia had to be postponed. We moved our main activities online and invented new ones: the POST-LOCKDOWN Webinar Series helped us navigate the impact of the pandemic in our university museums, the UMAC ORIGINS series documented the history of UMAC as we approach our 20th anniversary (eight episodes already!), the UMAC AWARD 2020 with three fabulous winners (the call for the Award 2021 is still open), and the 20th Annual General Meeting. We were delighted to be together, even remotely. Check it out because it shows.

But it’s not only that.

The year felt like a big blur, a haze. The most disturbing thing about 2020 – apart from the isolation, the loss and grief – was the uncertainty, the constant doubt and change, the endless need to adapt. We realized our plans, our hopes, our sense of normalcy, were precarious. We did not know it one year ago.

But a new year – and a new decade – is beginning today. Teaching will change, funding possibly too, but I think all in all universities have survived very well the stress test of 2020: in every continent they were at the forefront of research, public service and vaccine development; they have assisted governments in defining health policies, and they have been in the media almost every day explaining what is known and not-known about the science behind COVID-19.

I think university museums and collections will also survive the stress test. We need to feel hopeful because despite all the challenges, we’re in this together – together with each other and together with our universities and our communities.

I am joined by the UMAC Board in looking forward to 2021 together with each one of you, sharing our experiences, our plans and our hopes, supporting each other, and through that support, promoting university museums, collections and heritage everywhere in the world.

Warm wishes,

Marta C. Lourenço, UMAC Chair

Lisbon, 31 December 2020