The UMAC Award is presented annually to a university museum or collection in the world whose projects or initiatives demonstrate innovation and creativity, excellence and transferability of ideas that can be adopted by other university museums and collections, and that have significant impact on the host university, the community or society at large.


The nominees for the 2017 UMAC Award are (in alphabetical order):


Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair (ONAYLF)

Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma

Every spring, hundreds of students, teachers and community members gather at the Sam Noble Museum, University of Oklahoma, for the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair (ONAYLF). The Fair celebrates language diversity, with live presentations of song, speech and story and students compete in material submission categories like poster art, films, books cartoons and advocacy essays.

The Fair has encouraged and supported the efforts of Native communities in Oklahoma and the surrounding region to document, revitalize and perpetuate their ancestral languages. The growth of the Fair over 15 years has established the event as a major celebration of indigenous languages.

Replication of the Curie experiment on radioactivity

University of Rennes

The first quantitative measurement of radioactivity was made in 1898 by Pierre and Marie Curie. They used a prototype experiment based on a quartz balance. These measurements led to the discovery of radium and polonium.

 In 2015, Bernard Pigelet and Dominique Bernard achieved the delicate replication of the Curie prototype at the University of Rennes 1. Using an original quartz balance and pieces from historical instruments identified in the collections of the University they could make the experiment fully operational and it is now regularly presented to the public, through a permanent exhibition, online videos and particular events.

 The ‘I C Taiwan Exhibition’

National Cheng Kung University Museum

The NCKU Museum, cooperating with National Technical Museum, the City of Prague Museum and the Mendel Museum of Masaryk University in Czech Republic, presents the exhibition ‘I C Taiwan’ as the largest international exhibition organized by a Taiwanese university. The exhibition features a matrix of interdependent themes about Taiwan; the melding of religious cultures, the innovation of traditional techniques in cope with preserving historical and cultural heritages. The Czech museums hosted the exhibition from July 2015 until January 2016.

Media release

The winner of the Award will be announced at the UMAC 2017 General Assembly, 6 September, in Helsinki.

UNIVERSEUM has a new President!



UMAC is delighted that UMAC member Sébastien Soubiran, from the Jardin des Sciences/University of Strasbourg (France), was elected President of UNIVERSEUM, the European University Heritage Network, on 10 June 2017.

UMAC wishes Sébastien the best promoting European university heritage in Europe and beyond. We are looking forward to even more collaborations with him and the newly-elected UNIVERSEUM Board.

We also profit to thank Sofia Talas, the former UNIVERSEUM President – also a UMAC member – her precious contribution to university museums and collections and to UMAC. The organisation of the last UMAC Annual Conference in Milan would have not been possible without her.

UMAC wishes both the best of successes!!!


Finding Betsie! In search of an elephant skull

At one time in its history, the Zoology Collection of the Ghent University Museum had the skull of ‘Betsie’, a locally most famous elephant of the former Ghent Zoo (1851-1904). During this period many cadavers of animals were transferred to our collection for educational purposes. But when the Ghent Zoo presented the university with the cadaver of Betsie who died in the winter of 1887-1888, the university thought it to be too expensive to process. The zoo then decided to have only the skull cleaned for their own little museum. When the Zoo went bankrupt in 1904, the Zoology Collection bought the skull at the public sale of all the Zoo’s assets.
This skull is of enormous cultural and historic value for the City of Ghent and its University. But sadly enough, not knowing what it was at the time, the skull was traded for other skull with a person called ‘Jan Cools’. When I became the curator of the Collection, and when I learned what the skull was, I tried to talk with Jan Cools who had already sold it to someone in England or even Canada, to ask him to get me the address. He promised to do so, but sadly enough he died two days later. So yet again, a dead end.
2017 is a triple anniversary: the Ghent university and the Zoology Collection are 200 years old, and I also this year I am a curator of this Collection for 20 years. It would be great to get Betsie back home for this anniversary.
So now hear my appeal: please, please, help us find back the skull of the elephant Betsie, so we can bring her back home. If anyone recognizes parts of this story or the name Jan Cools, please contact me at; also read the extended story here

Dominick Verschelde

Zoology Collection, Ghent University

First UMAC Professional Development Workshop

MUSEUM BOOT CAMP: Surviving and Thriving within a University 

Jill Hartz, University of Oregon, USA

This workshop is directed to museum professionals (particularly higher education museum professionals).
Participants will be introduced to the importance of aligning the museum/collection’s mission with the university (parent institution) mission; to evaluate the museum/collection’s educational role within the university structure; to apply basic theoretical and methodological skills to the development of a strategic plan, policies, and procedures; and to obtain a working knowledge of mission-driven strategic planning and implementation.

Workshop Participation Fee (includes morning coffee and tea service, light lunch, and workshop materials):
– Regular: 60 EUR
– UMAC members: 50 EUR

Payment by bank transfer — see details in registration form.

Barbara Rothermel, UMAC Vice-President,

Register now

Jill Hartz has served as executive director of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, Eugene, since August 2008. She was director of the University of Virginia Art Museum in Charlottesville from 1997 to 2008 and previously worked in various capacities at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University as well as in the publishing field.  She has organized numerous exhibitions, primarily in the contemporary art field, and is the editor of five books, including Rick Bartow: Things We Know But Cannot Explain (co-edited with Danielle Knapp, 2015) and Hindsight-Fore-Site: Art for the New Millennium (University of Virginia Press, 2003).  Knapp and Hartz co-curated the Bartow traveling exhibition of the same name. Ms. Hartz is currently president of the national Association of Academic Museums and Galleries and a reviewer for professional museum programs, including accreditation. She received her MA with Honors in English Language and Literature from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 1973 and pursued undergraduate studies at Oberlin College in Ohio.

Serbian University Museums and Collections

How much do you know about university museums and collections in Serbia? Probably not much, right?

A survey published this year for the Universeum annual conference in Belgrade will change that.


Živan Lazović, Darko Mitrović, and Ivana Mitrović (eds). Serbian University Heritage: University of Belgrade, 2017.


Congratulations to the editors!

Full text

New publication on Best Practices for Academic Museums

The Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG), USA, has just released an important publication on  Best Practices. It  covers all major areas of university museum practice – from collections to fundraising and from governance to ethics – reuniting into a single source what is generally fragmented and dispersed. It has eight chapters and 10 appendices, multiple examples, links and legal references.

The ‘AAMG Professional Practices for Academic Museums and Galleries‘ is undoubtedly of broader interest to university museums and collections all over the world, making it an important resource for colleagues outside the USA.

Congratulations to the AAMG!

Access the full publication here.


UMAC Image Bank

UMAC is presently updating its website and, simultaneously, organising its archives.

Do you have images from past UMAC Conferences and/or other UMAC activities?

We are especially interested in images from the founding conference in Barcelona in 2001 .

More generally, if you have photos, manuscripts, drawings, ephemera or other materials that you think could be part of the UMAC archives, please get in touch with us!


Dominick Verschelde, UMAC 2009, Manchester (Photo A. Simpson).