ICOM-UMAC Global Systematic Survey of University Museums and Collections Professionals

Who works in university museums and collections worldwide? What are the expectations of professionals? How do they divide their time? What is their background training? Do they like their work or would they prefer to work elsewhere?

ICOM-UMAC wants to know the answers to these questions.

If you work — formally or informally, active or retired — in a higher education museum or collection anywhere in the world, we would be grateful if you could spare 10 minutes of your time to answer our Global Systematic Survey. The results will be published in a book in 2022.

The survey is part of the project P-MUS, involving ICOM-UMAC, ICOM-ICTOP, Universeum (Europe) and the AAMG (USA).



I Meeting of Western China University Museums

UMAC is delighted to announce that the I Meeting of University Museums from Western China took place  in Chengdu, last July 19.

The I Meeting was hosted by the Electronic Science and Technology Museum of the University of Electronic Science and Technology (UESTC). University museum directors of all disciplines in the arts, sciences and humanities attended, presented their museums and committed to continue to work together in the future.

UMAC Chair Marta C. Lourenço with university museum directors from Western China, UESTC, 19 July 2019.

Congratulations to this very new regional network of university museums!

Cuba has a new network of university museums!


Last week, on International Museum Day — 18 May 2019 — the Cuban community of university museums and collections came together and created a national network.

The Network of Cuban University Museums will be led by the Heritage Unit of the University of Havana, under the chairmanship of Professor Claudia Filipe.

UMAC is delighted and entirely supports this initiative. There should be even more local and national networks of university museums and collections. See here the ones we know about.

Congratulations to our Cuban colleagues!

UMTWS 2019 edition was a success

Last week, university museum professionals from all over China gathered at the Qian Xuesen Library and Museum, Shanghai Jiao Tong University for another edition of the UMTWS.

This year, the course counted with the presence of Marta Lourenço (UMAC Chair), Jill Hartz (President Emeritus of the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries USA), Sébastien Soubiran (President of Universeum, the European Academic Heritage Network) and Andrew Simpson (UMAC Board). Moreover, from China, and apart from Laishun AN (Vice-President of ICOM), high officials from the cultural sector attended, namely Qiang GUAN and Xiaobo CHU, respectively responsible for the cultural heritage of China and Shanghai.

Kai Zhang and Hu Hao were our kind hosts at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Xiaobo CHU, Qiang GUAN, Marta Lourenço, Laishun AN and Kai ZHANG.

UMAC and Shanghai Jiao Tong University have agreed to continue their partnership, diversifying the training offer to suit different types of professionals and creating new initiatives to promote university museums in China.

UMAC and QLM-SJTU consolidate their partnership

Marta C. Lourenço and Kai Zhang, Qian Xuesen Library and Museum, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Today, UMAC and the Qian Xuesen Library and Museum of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, have publicly agreed to take their partnership to a more substantial level.

Here are some of the changes:

  • UMTWS (University Museum Training Weeks Shanghai) will be more directed to the needs and aspirations of university museum professionals.
  • There will be internships in overseas university museums for Chinese university museum professionals.
  • A high profile event, called the SJTU Directors’ Forum, will bring together university museum directors, higher education senior administrators and stakeholders from the museum and culture sectors, to discuss strategic issues related to universities, museums, heritage and culture.
  • The creation of a Research Centre for University Museums and Collections at SJTU.

The agreement was made after the opening session of the UMTWS 2019, and counted with the presence of An Laishun, Vice-President of ICOM; Guan Qiang, Vice-President of the National Cultural Heritage of China; and Hu Hao, Member of the SJTU University Council, among others.

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.


Conference hosted by the University of Münster (WWU) in cooperation with the University Collections Association (GfU)
11 – 13 July 2019



Transfer is not a particularly new concept. In the past, it referred to the implementation of economically relevant or application-oriented research findings. Nowadays the term has taken on a broader meaning. In a position paper published by the Wissenschaftsrat (German Council of Science and Humanities) in 2016, “transfer” is defined as the conveyance of scientific and technological knowledge into society, culture and politics in the context of various activities.

Accordingly, the Wissenschaftsrat classifies science communication as a transfer activity and explicitly designates exhibitions as a potential transfer medium. This is by no means surprising as museums have been important institutions for the public re-presentation of scientific study and discoveries since the 19th century. However, the Wissenschaftsrat holds a critical view of the traditional concepts of popularisation and knowledge transfer because, by its nature, transfer is not one-directional, but rather a mutual relationship based on exchange and can only succeed if the content and methods correspond to the needs and expectations of the public.

The question of how to form such asymmetrical relationships has been the subject of intensive discussion at least since the literary scholar Mary Lou Pratt coined the term “contact zones” in 1991. New variants of the concept, such as “trading zones” (Galison, 1997) and “transaction spaces” (Nowotny/Scott/Gibbons, 2004), indicate that the academic community has come to a new understanding of science and its transfer relationships. Under this expanded definition of transfer, the focus has also shifted to less frequently considered aspects of university collections and the services they provide, e.g. consultation and advice, translation services and collaborative research activities.

University collections are especially conducive for testing experimental forms of object-oriented transfer. Because of their unique character, university collections can pursue very different paths than, for example, traditional museums. Collaborating with other “transfer specialists” at universities can produce promising results, be it in relation to subject-specific didactics, transfer centres or science communication departments within the faculties. With this in mind, the conference aims to highlight the performance potential of university collections for scientific transfer both within and outside the university.

At the 11th Collection Conference, hosted by the University of Münster and the University Collections Association (GfU) from 11th to 13th of July 2019, participants will discuss how and to what extent scientific collections can contribute to university transfer activities. What forms of transfer activities are conceivable? What might a successful bi- or multi-directional transfer look like? What processes of change could be set in motion by focusing on transfer in and for the collection – as well as within the university?

For the upcoming conference, we are interested in theoretical-reflective papers and praxis-based contributions. The following formats are planned:

Presentation sessions

The conference will focus on:
regarding the transfer zone COLLECTIONS | PUBLIC SPHERE
•    locations and media of transfer
•    mobile transfer formats
•    re-presentation of pathways to knowledge
•    models for bi- and multi-directional transfer
•    collections and application-oriented research
regarding the transfer zone COLLECTIONS | UNIVERSITY
•    collaboration with particular disciplines, science research, science communication and subject-specific didactics
•    positioning collections within university transfer strategies
The length of the presentations should not exceed 20 minutes.


The workshops should offer participants and especially the curators of university collections the opportunity to share praxis-oriented expertise and experience. Possible themes include:
•    transfer formats, analogue and digital,
•    new developments in provenience research and its funding
•    technical and conservational issues
Further suggestions for workshops on the conference theme “transfer zones” are welcome.
Participants may also submit individual wishes for the workshop section.
The workshops can have a duration of one or two double periods.

Poster Session

A poster session will offer the possibility to present and discuss current projects and the latest research findings.



The University Collections Association (GfU) will award six grants of a max. 200 euros each to offset the cost of travel and accommodation expenses for doctoral candidates who provide a substantial contribution to the conference (presentation, workshop, poster). Please submit an informal application to the treasurer of the GfU, Prof Dr Cornelia Weber.

Conference languages are German and English.

Please send your presentation, workshop proposal (max. 1,500 characters) or poster proposal (max 750 characters) together with a short CV by email no later than March 15th, 2019 to the following address:
Dr Eckhard Kluth, Central Curator
Central Curatorial Department of the University of Münster

Email sammlungstagung@uni-muenster.de

Conference website here.

Heritage, collections, exhibits, and university museums, Mexico


UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) has a long and consolidated trajectory in terms of heritage, collections, exhibits, and museums. Not only since 1910, when the furniture and facilities of the old National Schools were attributed to the National University, or since 1929, when its activities are redefined and its assets are reassigned by the University Autonomy, moreover the relationship of our University with the national heritage goes back to 1825, when by presidential decree it was decided that the valuable prehispanic pieces were to be concentrated in “one of the classrooms of the University”.

Since then and up to this day, our University has played a lead role in Works related to the gathering, research, conservation, preservation, exhibition and dissemination of the country’s cultural and natural assets, promoting always close contact with national and international specialized agencies, which maintain it up to date in the museum and heritage movements worldwide. Simultaneously, UNAM has generated museum activities of its own that have marked it significantly. These began during the first half of the 20th century. Initially, with the appropriation of the Geology Museum (1929); later, by means of temporary exhibits presented in galleries in Mexico City’s city center.

Once UNAM was installed in the Coyoacán campus, it not only secured the preservation of cultural assets under its care but, stemming from an ample program of cultural dissemination it also created its own exhibition spaces, it developed novel exposition techniques and began conforming new archives that consolidated a great variety of topic collections, used in both teaching and research, and extension and dissemination. During this process it undertook the task of rehabilitating its historical buildings as museums and cultural centers.

To date, we have registered 26 museums and multiple museographic spaces that belong to UNAM created in different moments and circumstances. Its affiliation to different university agencies explains the diversity of objectives that they pursue. The difference in topics, goals, epistemological and dissemination approaches, more than hinder the collector and exposition activities, ratify the vitality of this important museum compound and confirm UNAM’s social projections in terms of its heritage, collections, exhibits, and museums.

For a long time, universities have worked in this aspect. However, there is still much to do, since in the las few years there has been a noticeable growth in collections, exhibits, and museums both at UNAM and other higher education institutions, that have increased the expositive contents, diversifying the concepts and ideas of heritage, and there has also been an important change in the uses of heritage spaces and assets. On the other hand, hypoconnectivity forces a reorganization and documentation of a lot of information on collections, exhibits, and museums to be undertaken to offer it to the public in the new consultation digital platforms. The aforementioned advises to revisit, update, and document that has been done so far and propose, stemming from a inter and transdisciplinary standpoints, new way of registering, integrating, documenting, and disseminating the assets and activities in museum terms.

In order to reach this, conducting encounters that gather specialists and people in charge of the heritage, the exhibits, and the museums of institution of higher education, becomes necessary; with the aim of reflecting on what has been done and the long-terms expectations and, mainly, to reach consensus that establish basic heritage documentation and museum activity standards.

Being aware of this situation, the University Seminar on Museums and Museographic Spaces (SUMyEM), the General Directorate of Dissemination of Science (DGDC), the General Directorate of University Heritage (DGPU), Universum Museum of Science, and the Panel of the International Comitee of Documentation (CIDOC) of ICOM-Mexico call on the university community and interested public to participate in this Colloquium.

 General objective:

To gather specialists and people responsible for cultural and natural heritage, collections, exhibits, and museums at UNAM and other institutions of higher education to dialog and reflect on the state of art in each of the topics, in order to propose strategies that improve its ordinance, preservation, management, and documentation and, along with it, its visibility in the cultural aspect.

Specific objectives:

  • To analyze the new perspectives on cultural/natural heritage, tangible/intangible in the environments of universities and institutions of higher education in order to promote their registry and documentation and, in such a way, ensure their preservation and visibility in national and international ambiences.
  • To exchange experiences of registry, consolidation, preservation and uses of musealized collections, and proposing basic documentation standards.
  • To highlight the importance of registering and documenting the permanent/temporary objectual exhibits in order to recover the museographic trajectory of the institutions of higher education.
  • To highlight the methodical registry of the different activities that are undertaken in the university museums in order to strengthen the fields of museology and museography, along with different academic specializations.


Directed to: museum professionals, people responsible for collections, museographers, designers, teachers, museologists, heritage specialists, cultural managers, students of akin areas, and public interested in these topics.


  • Conferences
  • Dialog roundtables
  • Workshops on museum documentation


Tuesday 9 to Friday 12, April 2019


Colloquium: 10-14 h; Workshops 16-19 h.


UNIVERSUM, Museum of Science, UNAM


 University heritage:

The concepts of heritage have significantly varied in the last years in both local fields and at an international level, thanks to organizations such as ICOMOS, ICOM, UNESCO, that promote the protection of the cultural/natural, tangible/intangible assets, worldwide. As a matter of fact, the protection, conservation and dissemination of the heritage, collections, and university museums were formally settled in 2013 and 2015. However, the institutions of higher education, in addition to guarding the assets in their care, are constant producers of tangible and intangible assets. This leads us to analyze:

  • How do we keep the registries and documentation of heritage assets updated?
  • How do we integrate the heritage documentation methods to the new technologies and environments of the world wide web?
  • How do we link them to more extensive programs?
  • How do we materialize the intangible heritage of universities?
  • Challenges of the university heritage in the face of hyperconectivity.

University collections:

Throughout history, universities, scientific and literary institutes, and centers of higher education have managed to gather a great number of collections -inherited, donated, bought, or elaborated for the specific purpose- in order to comply with the functions of teaching, research, dissemination, and extension of culture. Many of them are already located in museums. Nonetheless, they are still classified and catalogued stemming from their intrinsic or thematic characteristics, and do not respond to museological requirements. This diversity of archives leads us to analyze:

  • University collections = university heritage? Parameters of valuation.
  • Values and uses of university collections.
  • Basic registry and documentation standards
  • How to give historical collections a sense of timeliness?

Permanent, temporary, and itinerary exhibits in museums and spaces of higher education:

Curatorships and museographic montages require a great conceptual, methodological, technical, and practical effort. They are cultural manifestations in themselves, that imply interdisciplinary and creative processes, frequently little known and undervalued. Given the singularity of each exhibit, registering in detail the different aspects that these maneuvers involve with the purpose if capitalizing the different museographical practices, becomes necessary. This leads us to analyze:

  • ¿How do we capitalize the creative processes of the exhibits?
  • How do we better explore the temporary and itinerary exhibits in UNAM’s different spaces?
  • Basic registry and documentation standards
  • Management alternatives for temporary exhibits

Museums and museographic spaces:

Throughout the 20th century, universities and institutes have undertook the task of establishing museums and exhibition spaces with different objectives and purposes. But many have not managed to subsist and have been forced to close their doors. The lack of horizontal and transversal perspectives on their operation and the activities they perform, and, above all, the lack of thorough registries on the works performed renders them very vulnerable. This leads us to analyze:

  • Justification and criteria for the creation of university museums.
  • Characteristics and functioning of the university museums
  • Basic registry and documentation standards
  • Definition of the museographic spaces in universities and institutions of higher education.