This week, Italy debates the ‘third mission’ of universities

In the beautiful Palazzo Bo, University of Padova, home to the oldest Anatomical Theatre in the world (1495), several national and international experts will debate the evaluation of ‘third mission’ activities in Italian universities. 

UMAC has been invited to reflect on the role of museums, collections and heritage in the ‘third mission’, and how this role can be measured.

The meeting is promoted by ANVUR, the Italian Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca.

See programme here.

Davis Museum at Wellesley College, USA, Wins Best Soft Power Cultural Activation Award

On Friday, September 29, at the Leading Culture Destinations Awards event in London, the Davis Museum at Wellesley College won the Best Soft Power Cultural Activation Award. The honor recognizes the ingenuity and global impact of ART-LESS: the Davis Without Immigrants, an initiative, and intervention launched by the Davis Museum in February 2017.


ART-LESS responded to President Trump’s first executive order on immigration, issued on January 27, 2017—a proposed “Muslim ban” on entry to the United States that left many feeling alarmed, threatened, and frightened. The goal of the ART-LESS initiative was to demonstrate the critical role that immigrants to the United States have played in the arts, via both their creative contributions as artists and their philanthropic roles as museum donors. It also articulated the Museum as a public space for critical discourse on matters of national importance.


Dr. Claire Whitner, Assistant Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Collections, says “the Davis puts cultural pluralism at the heart of our mission; to take that seriously means to create programming that emphasizes that value and defends it when threatened.”


During this six-day event, which encompassed the American “Presidents’ Day” holiday, the Davis Museum de-installed or shrouded all works of art in its permanent collections galleries that were either created by or given to Wellesley’s art collection by immigrants to the United States. Approximately 120 works of art—roughly 20 percent of the objects on view in the Museum’s permanent collections galleries—were either taken down or covered in heavy black cloth. Signage was posted next to each affected piece to indicate “Made by an Immigrant” or “Given by an Immigrant.” The concept and its impact were dramatic, particularly in light of a sluggish response among most American museums. The initiative garnered extensive international media coverage.


“I believe that museums can be important political spaces,” said Lisa Fischman, the Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director of the Davis,” for generating discourse, social engagement, and smart activism. Through actions like ART-LESS, the Davis takes a stance on contemporary issues, modeling social activism and political integrity for students—for the next generation—and for the larger community. Particularly at this moment in the nation’s history, it is extremely important to demonstrate the impact of immigrants—past, present, and future—on American cultural life. ART-LESS posed an invitation: taking the Davis as a microcosm, one might extrapolate out and consider the tremendous impact of immigrants on the nation as a whole.”

At Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, USA, a new take on curation and collaboration

Boris Oicherman, the Weisman’s new Cindy and Jay Ihlenfeld Curator for Creative Collaborations, is throwing tradition out the window.  The position is the museum’s first endowed position,  which means that it will be funded in perpetuity.  Funds to endow the position were given by Cindy and Jay Ihlenfeld, both former employees of 3M corporation that is headquartered in Minnesota.   While 3M may be best known for”Scotch tape,” today its biggest sales are business to business.  3M is known around the world for innovation and creativity. 

Boris Oicherman is a practicing artist with a Ph.D. in color science and an extensive background in printing technologies, computer programming, and digital color imaging. He recently completed a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts at Stanford University in California. Hired in July  2018,  he has a big project ahead of him.

“I want to create an environment where you do not need to define your project,” Oicherman said. “You will need to define your ideas, your agenda, why you want to do this and what direction you want to go, but you’ll be absolutely free to develop it over a year at least, and after that year, we’ll see what happens.” His job is basically to engage professors from diverse disciplines with artists in a collaborative process.

“When you think about a university, you think about education and what education can be, and the role the museum can have on that education, in changing it and making it better,” Oicherman said. 

Oicherman challenged the current role of the museum and its potential by asking over-arching questions like, “Why have a museum at a university?”

“Art, I believe today, is a totally unique thing that can be absolutely anything. There’s not a thing that you point a figure on and say ‘hey, this cannot be art,’” Oicherman explained. “That gives amazing freedom to artists.” 

Oicherman aims to manifest this freedom by organizing strategic interactions among different fields of knowledge within the University of Minnesota. Artists will interact with biologists, neuroscientists, engineers, designers—the possibilities are endless.

Over the course of a year, Oicherman will budget and plan for the space to become a center point for creative collaboration and will begin the project’s implementation mid-June 2018. Rather than an application that is proposal and submission based, Oicherman prefers to hold open office-hours where he hopes conversations, ideas, and relationships may be developed. 

“I’m looking for artists that are interested in very open-ended projects, that are interested in working with other people and that have crazy ideas because this is what the whole place is about,” Oicherman said. “The crazier the better.”


Call for Proposals UMAC & AAMG 2018

AAMG & UMAC CONFERENCE 2018, June 21-24, 2018

Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, USA

Audacious Ideas: University Museums and Collections as Change-Agents for a Better World      

We live in a dangerous, often unstable, and environmentally compromised world. What can academic museums, galleries, and collections do to remedy this situation? If we are dedicated to teaching and training new generations of students, to serving increasingly diverse communities, how do we make a positive difference? How do we know we are making that difference?

Audacious Ideas asks presenters to share with us exciting and unusual ways that their museums, galleries, and collections are serving as change-agents. We’re interested in proposals that address how you are adopting new roles and adapting old ones, welcoming new constituencies while keeping current visitors, and creating new paradigms that make our institutions more valued and critical partners in higher education and in building a more peaceful and healthy world.  

More info and submissions here.

DEADLINE: 30 October 2017.

Sam Noble Museum of Natural History is the Winner of the UMAC Award 2017

2008 Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair.
First Place: 3rd Ð 5th Group Language with Music and Dance
Anadarko Youth Two Steppers



Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair (ONAYLF), Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma 


Helsinki, Finland – The Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair (ONAYLF), Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma, is the winner of the UMAC Award 2017!

For its innovation, creativity, excellence, transferability, and significant impact on the university, the community and society at large.

In the words of the UMAC Award Evaluation Committee:

The Sam Noble Museum’s vision is to be “at the heart of our community, collectively working to inspire understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the earth and its peoples.” Nowhere is this more evident than in the Museum’s Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair.

Now in its 15th year, the Fair celebrates linguistic diversity presentations of spoken language, traditional and modern song, performances and creative arts, with awards selected by Native speakers, elders and educators. Through its commitment to educational and community inclusiveness, the Museum expands beyond its walls to uphold the continued use of indigenous languages while honoring the heritage and cultures – historic and contemporary – of the Native peoples of Oklahoma and the United States. In doing so, it sets a global paradigm for university museums and collections to acknowledge and respect indigenous populations and underserved communities.

The Replication of the Curie Experiment on Radioactivity, University of Rennes, and the ‘I C Taiwan’ Exhibition by the National Cheng Kung University Museum both won second place.
The Evaluation Committee recognised the quality of the three nominations.

Helsinki, Finlande – L’Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair (ONAYLF), Musée d’Histoire naturelle Sam Noble, Université d’Oklahoma, remporte le Prix UMAC 2017 !

En raison de son caractère novateur, de sa créativité, de son excellence, de sa transmissibilité et de son impact significatif sur l’université, la communauté et la société au sens large.

Selon les propos des membres du Comité d’Attribution du Prix UMAC:

La vision du Musée Sam Noble est d’être « au cœur de notre communauté, en œuvrant collectivement pour susciter la compréhension, l’appréciation et la gestion de la terre et de ses habitants ». L’Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair est LE lieu qui en atteste.

Fêtant aujourd’hui ses quinze ans d’existence, cette Foire est consacrée à la diversité linguistique et aux chants traditionnels et modernes et accueille des performances artistiques. Des prix y sont décernés par des locuteurs autochtones, des anciens et des éducateurs.

À travers son engagement pour l’inclusion pédagogique et collective, le Muséum va au-delà de ses murs pour défendre l’usage des langues indigènes tout en rendant hommage au patrimoine et aux différentes cultures – historique et contemporaine – des populations autochtones d’Oklahoma et des États-Unis. En agissant de la sorte, il définit un paradigme global permettant aux musées et collections universitaires de reconnaître et respecter les populations indigènes et les communautés fragilisées.

La « Reproduction de l’expérience des Curie sur la radioactivité » de l’Université de Rennes et l’exposition « IC Taiwan » du National Cheng Kung University Museum se partagent la seconde place du classement.

Le Comité d’Attribution reconnaît la qualité indéniable des trois nominés.

Helsinki, Finlandia – El ‘Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair ( ONAYLF)’, Museo Sam Noble de Historia Natural, Universidad de Oklahoma, es el ganador del Premio UMAC 2017.

Por su innovación, creatividad, excelencia, transferibilidad e impacto significativo para la universidad, la comunidad y la sociedad en general.

Según la opinión del Comité de Evaluación del Premio UMAC:

La visión del Museo Sam Noble es la de estar ‘en el corazón de la comunidad, trabajando colectivamente con el fin de inspirar comprensión, apreciación y administración de las tierras y sus pueblos’. En ningún otro lugar es más evidente que en el ‘Museum’s Oklahoma Native American Youth’.

Ahora, en su 15 aniversario, una vez más este Festival celebra la diversidad lingüística con presentaciones utilizando las lenguas orales, canciones tradicionales y modernas, artes performáticas y creativas, con premios otorgados por hablantes nativos, adultos mayores y educadores. A través de este compromiso con la educación y la inclusión en la comunidad, el Museo se expande más allá de sus puertas para mantener la continuidad de las lenguas indígenas mientras se hace honor al patrimonio y las culturas – históricas y contemporáneas – de los pueblos nativos de Oklahoma y de los Estados Unidos. Con esto instala un paradigma global en los museos y colecciones universitarios para reconocer y respetar a los pueblos indígenas y comunidades marginadas.

La Reproducción del Experimento de Radiactividad de Curie, Universidad de Rennes, y la ‘I C Taiwan Exhibition’ realizada por el Museo de la Universidad National de Cheng Kung fueron galardonados con el segundo puesto.

El Comité de Evaluación reconoce la calidad de las tres nominaciones.