UMAC Webinars


Since late March, universities across the world have closed, lectures were moved online and research – apart from COVID research – has suffered limitations due to safety reasons. As lockdown rules relax and museums worldwide gradually reopen, UMAC wants to have a global overview of the situation for university museums and collections.

How did the lockdown affect your university museum, collection, botanic garden or science center? How did you navigate the plethora of online platforms and social media, both internally and publicly? How did you respond to your audiences – researchers, students, general public? What lessons did you learn?

UMAC is organizing a series of five informal webinars every Friday between 5 June and 3 July 2020. The series will take place on ZOOM. Each webinar will happen twice a day to facilitate access from different time zones.

Please see below how you can participate.

The series will be made available au fur et à mesure under our resources section — webinars and in UMAC YouTube channel.

Similar initiatives are being organised by Universeum (also here) and the AAMG – check their websites for details.

WEBINAR I: Reopening for the public

5 June 2020

Has your university museum, botanic garden or science center reopened to the public or will reopen soon? What safety measures are you implementing in your exhibitions and public spaces? Will you reopen totally or partly? If you are on campus, how are you coping with the restrictions of a closed campus?

8 AM Lisbon/9 AM Pretoria/3 PM Shanghai/4 PM Tokyo/5 PM Sydney, moderated by Andrew Simpson, Australia

5 PM Lisbon/11 AM Mexico City/12 PM New York/1 PM Rio de Janeiro, moderated by Marta Lourenço, Portugal

WEBINAR II: Reopening Collections

12 June 2020

Is your university museum resuming access to collections post-lockdown? What safety measures are you implementing? Do you plan to quarantine specimens, artefacts, manuscripts and books post-access? What impact did COVID have on your collections policy? Are you collecting COVID objects?

8 AM Lisbon/9 AM Pretoria/3 PM Shanghai/4 PM Tokyo/5 PM Sydney, moderated by Akiko Fukuno, Japan

5 PM Lisbon/11 AM Mexico City/12 PM New York/1 PM Rio de Janeiro, moderated by Sébastien Soubiran, France

WEBINAR III: Lockdown Lessons: Going Digital

19 June 2020

During lockdown, did your university museum, science center, botanic garden remain active online? Was your university museum prepared? What technological, logistical, content challenges did ‘going digital’ pose? What lessons did you learn for the future?

8 AM Lisbon/9 AM Pretoria/3 PM Shanghai/4 PM Tokyo/5 PM Sydney, moderated by Roland Wittje, India

5 PM Lisbon/11 AM Mexico City/12 PM New York/1 PM Rio de Janeiro, moderated by Jill Deupi, USA

WEBINAR IV: Lockdown Lessons: Online Teaching and Students

26 June 2020

Was your university museum or collection being used for teaching? Were you teaching material culture or collections-based courses at graduate or post-graduate levels when the lockdown started? What were the challenges of moving object-based teaching online? Which platforms did you use? Did you create specific resources? How did students cope? How can we prepare for a future where online teaching appears to be predominant?

8 AM Lisbon/9 AM Pretoria/3 PM Shanghai/4 PM Tokyo/5 PM Sydney, moderated by Alistair Kwan, New Zealand

5 PM Lisbon/11 AM Mexico City/12 PM New York/1 PM Rio de Janeiro, moderated by Kirsten Vincenz, Germany

WEBINAR V: Lockdown Lessons: The Near Future

3 July 2020

What is the immediate and mid-term impact of COVID in your university museum and collection? What consequences do you anticipate in terms of audiences, logistics, finances, access, even mission and strategy?

8 AM Lisbon/9 AM Pretoria/3 PM Shanghai/4 PM Tokyo/5 PM Sydney, moderated by David Ellis, Australia

5 PM Lisbon/11 AM Mexico City/12 PM New York/1 PM Rio de Janeiro, moderated by Steph Scholten, UK

Contributions (limited slots)

We are now inviting informal contributions from all over the world. Each contribution consists of a 5 min presentation (max. 3 powerpoint slides, these are optional). Slots are limited and will be accepted on a first come first served basis.

If you want to contribute, please send an email to UMAC Secretary Wenjia Qiu, indicating name, institution, and which date and hour you want to intervene. You will be asked to provide your three slides 24 h before the webinar.


Everyone can attend but registration is required.

Please send an email to UMAC Secretary Wenjia Qiu, indicating name and institution. You will be given the access link and password.


Notice of Cancellation UMAC 2020, Sydney

The UMAC Board, in close consultation with the UMAC 2020 Local Organising Committee, has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation across the world and within Australia and has decided to cancel the UMAC 2020 conference that was to be held at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, University of Sydney, in September.

The UMAC Board has reluctantly reached this decision in view of current restrictions and uncertainties about when social and economic life and international travel will return to normal in Australia and worldwide.

The UMAC Board is currently considering the University of Sydney hosting the UMAC conference in 2023. In the meantime, the UMAC 2020 registration process has been suspended and preparatory activities for 2020 have now ceased.

The conference would initiate the commemorations of the 20th anniversary of UMAC and was to include a review of the past 20 years of university museums and collections as well as a look into the futures of the sector.

We hope to host a ‘marker’ event later in 2020, possibly online, to hold our 20th Annual General Meeting, acknowledge the 20th anniversary of UMAC and attribute the UMAC Award 2020.

We would like to thank all who have been involved in planning the conference and especially thank members of the UMAC community for their support with the record number of outstanding submissions, totaling 138 from 30 countries and territories. While the conference cannot proceed, we hope to capture some of this material in digital activities this year and in a special edition of extended abstracts for the University Museums and Collections Journal. There will be more communication on this from the Journal Editor shortly.

We look forward to seeing you all in Dresden in 2021.

David Ellis, Chair UMAC 2020 Local Organising Committee

Marta C. Lourenço, Chair, ICOM-UMAC


University Museums from Home

As universities across the globe switch to remote learning and university museums and collections’ professionals are #workingfromhome as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we want to hear from you.

1) The Challenges of Remote Work

How is your university museum, university botanic garden or university collection coping with remote work? Which impact did it have on your daily practices? How are you addressing museum issues that require some degree of physical staff (e.g. conservation, security, others)? We would love to hear from you.

2) The Challenges of Keeping the Engagement

The International Museum Day 2020 is still going ahead — digitally. Many museums are taking digital to a whole new level and reinventing themselves online. Innovative activities, from webinars, online seminars and lectures to digital exhibitions, hanging out with curators on zoom, collections and archives digital access, social networks games and quizzes, and so many others, can now be seen online.

How are you keeping your audiences engaged? Which activities did you postpone, transfer online, or cancel altogether? Who is being left behind due to lack of access or resources?

3) The Challenges of Solidarity

University museums are also directly contributing to the minimize the suffering in affected countries and communities, from promoting solidarity campaigns and mobilizing medical equipment to university hospitals and health centers to donating their stock of masks and alcohol, joining experts’ task forces and unpacking relevant scientific information to the public.

What solidarity initiatives is your university museum, botanic garden or collection directly or indirectly supporting?

Please reply in the comments below and provide information and links. We will amplify most of the initiatives in UMAC social networks.