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


Cultural Current: International Exchange Program between the UK and Russia

From December 21, 2020, applications for participation in the international online program for the exchange of professional experience between museum specialists of Russia and the UK CULTURAL CURRENT will be accepted. The program is implemented with the support of the Department of Culture and Education of the British Embassy in Moscow as part of the program UK-Russia Creative Bridge 2020-21. 

The program is designed to activate the work of university museums and the communities around them. Using examples of the best museum practices in Russia and Scotland, we will consider the diverse possibilities of university museums, and through them universities as centers for the preservation and presentation of scientific and cultural heritage, centers of social change. The implementation of this program is a step towards increasing the openness and accessibility of university museums. The program will expand the sphere of influence of museums within universities, through universities to form the cultural and social agenda of cities and regions. 

The program provides participants with the opportunity to: 

– to establish professional contacts with leading experts of museum affairs of Russia and Scotland; 

– share your own experience in implementing various projects and get instant feedback; 

– develop strategic thinking, gain skills in setting and achieving goals; 

– expand its sphere of influence within universities. 

Organizers of the program: Tomsk Polytechnic University,  Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University,  Perm State National Research University together with the Association of University Museums of Scotland  UMIS. 

Co-organizers of the program: Department of Culture and Education of the British Embassy in Moscow. 

Seminars of the CULTURAL CURRENT program will be held online on February 5, 11, 12 and 19, 2021. Participation in the program is free – you can join it as a speaker or listener. To do this, you must register by specifying the selected form of participation in the application. The organizers reserve the right to select participants. 

The program is aimed at: 

managers and employees of university, corporate, and school museums who believe that difficulties harden and open up new opportunities; 

students who want to change, expand their social circle, find new topics for inspiration; 

– volunteers who need to be in the museum and with the museum; 

researchers who are open to scientific and creative projects in partnership with university museums; 

anyone who understands how great and underestimated the potential of university museums in the world is. 

Working language of The Program: russian and english. 

Registration for the program: 

– for those who want to participate in the program, registration will be open from December 21, 2020 to January 15, 2021 through this online form.

The number of seats is limited. All relevant information about the program and seminars will be provided in the  program group on Facebook. 

Curators of the program: 

Lidia Lozovaya 


Supported by:

Debate about Deaccessioning in US Museums

A recent important resource about the legal and ethical dimensions of deaccessioning is the inaugural “Civil Conversations Program” of the University of Miami School of Law’s Hoffman Forum. The video is of wide interest to its global community of university museums and collections.


Jill Deupi, Beaux Arts Director & Chief Curator, Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami

Martin Gammon, Founder and President, Pergamon Art Group

Glenn Lowry, The David Rockefeller Director, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Elizabeth Merritt, Vice President for Strategic Foresight and Founding Director, Center for the Future of Museums, American Alliance of Museums

Stephen Urice, Professor of Law, Dean’s Distinguished Scholar, and Director, Entertainment, Arts, & Sports Law LL.M., University of Miami School of Law

Co-hosted by: Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Graduate Program at the University of Miami School of Law and the LOWE Art Museum

UMAC AWARD 2021: Call for Nominations

UMAC invites the university museums and collections global community to submit nominations to the UMAC AWARD 2021.

Do you know a particularly outstanding project by a university museum or collection? Was your own university museum or collection involved in an exceptionally significant project that you think deserves international visibility?

The Call for Nominations will be open until 28 February 2021 and the nominations can only be made online.

Please find the online form and information about eligibility, selection criteria and more here.

We can’t wait to see the 2021 nominations!

University of Tartu Museum Wins the UMAC Award 2020

The 2020 UMAC Award was won by the project ‘A Hundred Faces of the University of Tartu’, submitted by the Tartu University Museum, Estonia. The award was accepted by Mariann Raisma, Director of the Museum, during an online ceremony held today on youtube:

The objective of the University of Tartu Museum’s project was to portray the University through encounters between current scholars and historical objects. In the course of the project, a photo exhibition called “Get Your Spirit Ready! A Hundred Faces of the University of Tartu” was mounted, and a book called A Hundred Faces of the University of Tartu was published. The latter focused on 100 objects from the University of Tartu collections which enabled the scholars to describe their fields of activity. The exhibition travelled to the University’s various buildings around Estonia, thereby introducing colleagues to each other, and the University’s outstanding scholars to the students. Now the exhibition is part of a new permanent exhibition called The University of Our Lives at the Museum.

In second place were the “Egyptian Coffins Project” by the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge University, UK) and the “Return of Cultural Heritage Project: Manchester Museum Repatriation” by the Manchester Museum (University of Manchester, UK).


Nominees for the UMAC Award 2020

Today, the three nominees for the UMAC Award 2020 have been announced by Akiko Fukuno, Chair of the UMAC Award Committee.

We invite you to learn more about these three outstanding projects every Monday in September on our YouTube channel:

7 September: The Egyptian Coffins Project, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, with Steph Scholten (UMAC)

14 September: Return of Cultural Heritage Project, The Manchester Museum, University of Manchester, with Akiko Fukuno (UMAC)

21 September: A Hundred Faces of the University of Tartu, Tartu University Museum, with Andrew Simpson (UMAC)

28 September: Announcement of the Winner of the UMAC Award




Solidarity with University Museums and Collections in Beirut — UPDATES

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Grâce Homsy-Gotwalles discute des opportunités de formation des professionnels des musées après l’explosion à Beyrouth.

Avec Sébastien Soubiran, UMAC Board/UNIVERSEUM/Université de Strasbourg.

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Suzy Hakimian, Chair of ICOM-Lebanon talks to us about the impact of the explosion, the reconstruction of museums, the international effort, and more.

Friday, 14 August 2020

Elsa Urtizverea, Heritage Protection Coordinator at the ICOM Secretariat in Paris shares her first hand impressions and explains the next steps for the international recovery efforts.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

To the volunteers in Beirut:


Dear volunteers,

The international community of university museums and collections is deeply sorry for the shocking tragedy that happened last week in your beautiful city of Beirut, Lebanon. You, your family, your friends and all citizens of Beirut are in our minds and hearts, and I sincerely hope you are all well.

I want to express my deepest gratitude, on behalf of UMAC, for your amazing capacity of response and spirit of solidarity. The task ahead is huge and barely starting, but I am confident that with your help, resilience and passion, the cultural heritage of Beirut – particularly the outstanding museums, collections and archives of Beirut universities – will soon be well preserved and accessible again for research, education and culture.

On the international community side, the response has also been super quick and we are proud to be part of a coalition of institutions involving ICOM, ICOMOS, the Blue Shield, and others, led by ICOM Lebanon.

I want each and every one of you to know that you are not alone. You will be working towards the preservation of heritage that is not only of the Lebanese but of citizens from all over the world, of citizens of the future. Your hands and minds will be the hands and minds of hundreds of us who cannot be physically with you at this moment.

Thank you all, and thank you Gilbert, Elsy and David for mobilizing this extraordinary group. Together we will restore Beirut’s cultural heritage to its 3 August glory – perhaps even better. And I look forward to meeting you personally, one by one, as soon as possible.

Take care.

Marta Lourenço, University of Lisbon


Sunday, 9 August 2020

The architects Gilbert Nicolas, Elsy Sayegh and David Chelala are mobilizing volunteers to assess damages to museums in Beirut, assist with the clean up and reporting back to ICOM-UMAC.

They will be working with ICOM-Lebanon and Elsa Urtizverea, from the Heritage Protection Department of the ICOM Secretariat in Paris.

If you are in Beirut, your help is most appreciated. Sign in here to volunteer.

Friday, 7 August 2020

For the past 48 hours, Gilbert Nicholas has been visiting museums in Beirut, talking to staff, documenting damages and helping with the clean up. Today, he gives UMAC a first-hand report on the impact, particularly to university museums and collections.