UMAC contribution to the ICOM museum definition debate

ICOM is promoting a debate about the museum definition. The current museum definition dates from the 1970s (with changes introduced at the 2007 General Assembly in Seoul). Fifty years have meanwhile passed and ICOM is compiling contributions from museum professionals all over the world.

The importance of the ICOM’s museum definition should not be underestimated. Governments, accreditation agencies, among others, in many countries, derive national legislation, regulation and standards for the museum sector from the definition.

When the debate opened, we made an announcement here and we strongly encourage UMAC members to participate. More than 150 proposals from all continents can be read here.

UMAC wants to contribute:

Is there anything we can — and should — contribute as a collective? Does the current museum definition reflect the needs and aspirations of university museums and collections? What should we add? What is our agenda, if any?

Please send your views to Marta Lourenço, or leave your comment below before the end of April.

The current ICOM Museum Definition is:

The museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.

First ever university museums meeting in Indonesia

Today, c. 20 managers of university museums in Indonesia are meeting at the Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia, in Jakarta, for the First National Colloquium of University Museums.

UMAC Chair Marta C. Lourenço addresses the Jakarta Colloquium (photo Musiana Yudhawasthi).

UMAC strongly encourages this Colloqium and wishes fruitful discussions — perhaps even a national network? — to Indonesian university museums.

Kyoto #UMAC2019 Program just released!

The preliminary program of the 19th UMAC Annual Conference in Kyoto has just been released.


Here are some of the highlights:

  • 2 Keynote Speakers
  • 62 Oral Papers
  • 45 Poster Papers
  • 1 Special Session with ICTOP (ICOM International Committee for the Training of Personnel)
  • 1 Special Session about University Museums and Collections in Japan
  • 3 pre-conference Workshops
  • 1 post-conference Seminar (Tokyo)
  • Visits to university museums and collections in Kyoto

Papers from: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, UK, USA.

Download the  UMAC 2019 DETAILED PROGRAM

More info about UMAC 2019.

Registrations for ICOM 2019 — do not forget to register before April 30!

Did you register for UMAC Kyoto yet?

This September, Kyoto will host the 25th General Conference of ICOM, the biggest and most important conference of museums in the world, with more than 3.000 participants from all international backgrounds. This worldwide reputed hub for exchange and innovation will tackle the theme “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition”.

It is through this lens that around 3,000 museum professionals from all over the world will explore the main topics of the conference. ICOM’s International Committees and many National Committees, Regional Alliances and Affiliated Organisations will organise conferences, workshops and other events. Together with Standing Committees, the secretariat will offer plenary and panel sessions about sustainability, the museum definition, disaster risk management and cultural diversity.

Have you already registered for #ICOMKyoto2019?

Early bird tickets will be available until April 30 (00:00 GMT+9). Book your pass today and save up to 100€.

Read more about the UMAC Annual Conference program in Kyoto here.

Science & Technology Collections in China

11th Symposium of Chinese Science Museums

China Science and Technology Museum, Beijing, China

19 April 2019

Science & Technology Collections – Collection, Research, and Communication


The 11th Symposium of Chinese Science Museums “Science & Technology Collections – Collection, Research, and Communication”  is hosted by China Association for Science and Technology – Research Center of Science Communication and Popularization (CAST-RCSCP) of Tsinghua University, China Science and Technology Museum (CSTM), and Journal of Natural Science Museum Research, and supported by Chinese Museums Association (CMA), Chinese Association of Natural Science Museums (CANSM), Scientific Instrument Commission (SIC).

A wide range of topics will be covered, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Science & Technology Collections in Science Museums: Significance, Value and Function

What is the role of collections in science museums in the digital/new media/Internet age? Science museums usually held collections, while science centers did not accumulate or study collections. We will invite experts to share their studies on current situation, problems and reasons referring to collections in Chinese science museums.

  • Collecting Contemporary Science and Technology

For collecting contemporary science and technology, which is different from the much older science and technology, the questions range from how to identify what to collect, how to collect the objects and documents, how to preserve what is being collected to what to do with what is being collected.

  • Communication through Science & Technology Collections: Objectives, Content and Strategy

How to transform collections into exhibits/digital/ cultural and creative products? How to explore the relationship between collections and science education?

Each topic will have a 120-minute time slot for 3-5 speakers. A 30-minute panel discussion will be featured at the end of each topic. We look forward to discussing these timely topics with professionals from science museums, universities, research institutions, as well as the industry of science popularization. The symposium will be in Chinese, and simultaneous interpretation is only provided while international speakers make their presentations.

The day commences at 8:30 am, finishing by 6:00 pm. Registration will be required. There will be no registration fees charged. Furthermore, lunch during the symposium will be arranged by the secretariat of the symposium.

Additional Information of Morning Session

The seminar will focus on the topic “Collecting Contemporary Science and Technology”. Today, in science museums, universities and national research institutions around the world, collecting contemporary science and technology is a much discussed topic. The questions range from how to identify what to collect, how to collect the objects and documents, how to preserve what is being collected to what to do with what is being collected. It is recognized by all that collecting contemporary (defined here as post 1960) science and technology requires an approach different from that of collecting much older science and technology.

Confirmed Speakers:

Dr. Richard Kremer, President of the Scientific Instrument Commission.

Mr. Gabriel Bevilacqua, Vice-Chair of ICOM CIDOC.

Mr. Claude Faubert, Coordinator of the ICOM-ITC.

Please feel free to contact Ms. Bai Ting from the secretariat of CSTM for more detailed information about the symposium. 

Announcement in Chinese


South African Museums Association Bulletin: CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

The South African Museums Association Bulletin (SAMAB) provides a forum for the publication of peer reviewed articles that promote the discussion, debate and the dissemination and exchange of information on aspects of museology, with particular but not exclusive reference to South Africa. SAMAB also enables the communication of current issues, practices and policies regarding collections management, curatorial discourse, museum administration, research, exhibitions, visitor studies, community engagement, education, conservation and other topics relevant to the museum and wider heritage sector.

The theme for SAMAB 2019 is (Re)define our museums. This is to invite South African museums and their professionals to reflect on what it means to redefine the South African museum and its sector. In an era of post democracy, museums claim to have transformed, adjusted and re-invented, however principles, practices and policies need to address the dire crisis museums are in, when by definition we no longer seem to reflect the challenges, manifold visions, and responsibilities we face. This theme is an active response to the International Council of Museums (ICOM) call to revise the conversation about the existence of museums and redefining museums.

ICOM is calling upon museum professionals worldwide to take part in creating a new museum definition and an open call for proposal has been made. The definition has only seen minor adjustments over recent decades, but does not reflect and express adequately the complexities of the 21st century and the current responsibilities and commitment of museums nor their challenges.

South African Museums have the ability to influence society and foster change, they are instruments of identity and some would argue that museums are rapidly losing their power and place in society. The fourth draft of the revised edition of the White paper of Arts and Culture (2017) expressed that the role of museums within South Africa have the potential to radically shift from an institutional landscape of current lack and isolation to a landscape of creative and cultural relevance and social change. The fragmented dispensation of museums, poor policy and the lack of an integrated national museum commission and what constitutes and defines a museum in a highly charged, political and corrupt landscape is one of the many challenges. This re-definition comes at a crucial stage in South Africa’s economic, political and social climate entering a new era.
We welcome submissions, papers and academically sound opinion pieces about the topic of re-defining South African museums and can include but are not limited to address some crucial questions:

  • Is there still place for museums in this current contested political and social space?
  • Should museums fall and get a hashtag?
  • Are our museums at a crossroads or crisis point?
  • How to survive in this funding and resources crisis?
  • Are South African Museums in jeopardy?
  • Do we need our National and Provincial Museums?
  • Is legislation a prism or prison for our museums?
  • How do we decolonize the museum?
  • Should we dispossess museum collections?

This issue will be published in December 2019
Submission Deadline: 1 June 2019

For more info, please contact Sian Tiley <>

Call for nominations for the SAMAB Editorial Board.

ICOM Museum International

Museum International: The issues ‘Museums in a Digital World’ and ‘Museums and Contested Histories’ are now available



Following the recent announcement of our new partnership with Taylor and Francis/Routledge to publish ICOM’s journal, Museum International, we are delighted to announce that ICOM members can now enjoy unlimited access to the journal’s full online archive and current issues through their ICOM member space.

To complement this, Taylor & Francis/Routledge are offering ICOM members free access to five of their museum- and heritage-related journals : Heritage  & Society, Museum History Journal, Museum Management and Curatorship, Museums & Social Issues: A Journal of Reflective Discourse, Journal of Heritage Tourism.

We hope you will enjoy reading the recently published issues of Museum International: ‘Museums in a Digital World’ (Vol. 70, No. 277-278) and ‘Museums and Contested Histories’ (Vol. 70, No. 279-280).

In Museums in a Digital World, authors describe the manifold opportunities digital technology has provided museums in terms of accessibility, inclusion and the democratisation of culture.

This issue examines the new roles museum objects, collections and professionals are assuming in this digital age. It outlines the different strategies that are being implemented by museums to adapt to this ever-changing environment, and presents innovative initiatives in co-creation.

Museums and Contested Histories highlights museums’ increasing willingness to address past traumatic events through mediation and experimentation.

By acknowledging and expressing multiple points of view and voices, museums might well play a crucial reconciliatory role in ongoing controversies, giving a voice to the voiceless, shifting narrative focus, and upholding pluralism.

We hope that you will find this resource useful in your professional life and research.

To access, enter your account in ICOM’s website and click on ‘Read Museum International‘.