IMAGINATIONS: The Voice of Young Professionals

We are delighted to introduce UMAC FUTURES’ latest project IMAGINATIONS, a series of online conversations in our YouTube channel moderated by Zhao Ke, co-chair of UMAC Futures and Director of the Museum of Electronic Science at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China.

The series opens with five episodes featuring professionals from the Czech Republic, UK, Serbia, Argentina and Japan.

Read more.


New thematic issue UMACJ

Call for proposals for a thematic issue of University Museums and Collections Journal UMACJ

UMAC, ICOM’s International Committee for university museums and collections, through 2020 and 2021 have undertaken an “Ethics of Repatriation and Restitution” study in partnership with other ICOM groups (ETHCOM, ICME and ICOM Australia), and with UNIVERSEUM, the European network of university museums. This project was part of ICOM’s commitment to research and address issues of decolonization. The project involved considerable international dialogue and exchange between university museums and source communities. It resulted in a draft set of guidelines designed to assist universities on the issue of restitution and repatriation and augment the ICOM Code of Ethics.

The project uncovered many interesting examples of repatriation from the higher education sector as part of university decolonisation strategies. We are now seeking to capture these for a thematic edition of the University Museums and Collections Journal. Given that the issue of repatriation will dominate the coming generation or two of museum practice, we believe it is important to capture the details of some of the initial repatriation efforts from universities. Universities must address the issue of heritage tainted with histories of violence, forceful occupation, oppression, exploitation, unethical research, and war.  Most importantly, we must go beyond university museums, deep into our departments, laboratories and institutes, which are full of items embodying uncomfortable truths.

We are seeking two different types of papers with this call:

  1. Papers that discuss and scope the changes in universities and university museums currently underway and frame these within the theoretical contexts of either museology, education, sociology, cultural studies or organisation and institution theory, or some combination of these.
  2. Case studies of your university repatriation experience in the form of a proposal (under 1000 words) for a full article. Aspects that should/could be included are:-
  • What was the nature of material repatriated?
  • How and why did it initially become part of the university?
  • Were you approached by source communities seeking material, or did you seek out source communities, or work with third parties?
  • Why was it the right time to repatriate material?
  • Did the repatriation provide learning, teaching and research opportunities? Will these be ongoing after the repatriation?
  • Was there any resistance to the repatriation?
  • Did the university (and university museum/collection) change as a result of the repatriation, including relationships with staff, students, alumni? If so, how?

For the case studies we prefer papers that are jointly authored by university practitioners and people from or representing source communities.

We are seeking both papers that either comply with or challenge the set of guidelines as currently expressed. You can find the guidelines here.

This thematic issue of UMACJ represents an opportunity to both develop a discourse around the changing paradigms of knowledge generation in higher education, and document some specific instances on the cusp of what is likely to be a generational change in our knowledge-based organisations as universities and their museums are transformed from being fixed points of cultural authority to fluid networks of cultural agency.

Proposals due: 31 December 2021.

Send proposal to

Publication: aiming for late 2022 or early 2023

This special issue will be edited by: Steph Scholten (The Hunterian, University of Glasgow), Jilda Andrews (Australian National University), Nicole Crawford (University of Wyoming), Andrew Simpson (Macquarie University).

Colonized Objects and Bodies in Europe

Colonized Objects and Bodies in Europe

New challenges and new perspectives on the De-colonialization of Cultural Heritage 


  • Organizer: Coimbra Group, Working groups Heritage and Development Cooperation; Jeremy Upton (Edinburgh), Giuliana Tomasella (Padova), Julien Bobineau (Würzburg) 
  • Format: conference at the University of Würzburg (Germany) 
  • Date: 24th and 25th of June 2022 

In both the ex-colonial and the ex-colonized worlds, visions of Africa and its colonial past have become incarcerated in stereotypes, dichotomies, and historical misrepresentation. Especially in European Cultural Heritage, we see a mixture of these ambivalent subjects and habits of lack of self-searching. But the restitution debate in Europe on cultural objects from Africa (Sarr/Savoy 2018) and the Black Lives Matter movement, which also reached Europe in 2020, have set the course for a questioning of the colonial essence of Cultural Heritage. Recent questions about history politics, cultural memory and cultural traditions are now also – and above all – debated in public. Museums, Cultural Heritage institutions, Universities with their collections and their self-image are now more than ever in the spotlight of the dynamics of a global debate. In the course of the conference, we aim to discuss the following questions: 

– How can Cultural Heritage be decolonized in science, society, politics, and institutions to avoid ideological extremism? 

– Are there national differences and similarities in Europe? 

– Who are the actors and networks involved in defending the status quo or in decolo-nizing Cultural Heritage? 

– What are the direct and indirect consequences of unreflect and stereotypical Cultural Heritage in Europe? 

– How can the ‘decolonialization of Cultural Heritage’ contribute to the field of devel-opment cooperation with the African continent? 

The conference will be organized within four sessions: 

1. Historical misrepresentation: The concealment of colonial history in Cultural Heritage 

2. The survival of Stereotypes: Reflections on the Imaginary within Cultural Heritage 

3. University’s collection: Current states and new approaches 

4. European Museums: Restitutions and new displays 

The conference is organised under the umbrella of the Coimbra Group, an association of long-established European multidisciplinary universities of high international standard. 

 Abstracts of max. 300 words and a short bio of max. 200 words should be sent to julien.bobineau(at)uni-wuerzburg and giuliana.tomasella(at) by 30 September 2021. 

UMAC-UNIVERSEUM 2021 now accessible

The roundtables, oral papers, meetings, workshops and keynote addresses are now accessible to everyone in UMAC YouTube channel.

Look for them under the playlist ‘Highlights from UMAC-Universeum 2021’. The chats and live transcripts will be made accessible au fur et à mesure, in this website.

New issue of UMACJ is out

Volume 13, No. 1 of the University Museums and Collections Journal is out. The issue comprises the book of abstracts of the 2021 UMAC-Universeum annual conference.

It was edited by Maria Economou, Andrew Simpson, Marta C. Lourenço, Nathalie Nyst and Sébastien Soubiran.

Full access here.


UMAC Guidelines on Restitution and Return: Discussion is now open

As a result of UMAC’s project ‘The Ethics of Restitution and Repatriation’ (ICOM Special Projects), coordinated by UMAC Vice-Chair Steph Scholten, a draft version of the Guidance for Restitution and Return of Items from University Museums and Collections has been released for public discussion.

The draft Guidance has been prepared with the collaboration of Universeum, EthCom, ICME and ICOM Australia. It compiles recent sources dealing with restitution, as well as policies and procedures (re)developed in the past few years, including feedback from a range of experts.

This draft Guidance was presented by Steph Scholten on 3 September at the UMAC-Universeum 2021 Annual Conference and a roundtable followed.


Feel free to give your feedback to steph.scholten(at) before 30 September.


21st UMAC Annual General Meeting

The materials for the 21st UMAC AGM, scheduled for Friday, 3 September 2021, 10.30 AM Lisbon/London time, have been released:

  • Agenda
  • Invitation Letter
  • President’s report
  • Minutes of the 20th UMAC AGM

Consult them here.

According to the ICOM statutes and UMAC bylaws, all UMAC members in good standing can participate in the annual general meetings.