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


UMAC 2020 Sydney: Call for Papers now open

The University of Sydney’s new Chau Chak Wing Museum will host the 20th annual UMAC conference from the 15th to 17th September, 2020.
The call for papers is now open!

The University of Sydney is Australia’s first university and home to the new, state-of-the-art Chau Chak Wing Museum. This museum will unite the university’s art, antiquities and natural history collections and is the result of a 10-year strategy. UMAC 2020 brings delegates to Sydney in spring, just weeks after the Chau Chak Wing Museum opens, to explore the conference theme of ‘New Destinations: Looking Forward, Looking Back’.


As the operating environment of higher education is changing, museums and collections can play a significant role in helping to shape an institution’s identity and narrative. They are an opportunity for diverse audiences to engage with history, academic thought and contemporary ideas while performing as a theatre space for innovative research and practice. UMAC 2020 examines the relationships between museums and collections and their institutional hosts, their relationship with the tripartite missions of teaching, research and engagement and their relevance to global issues in both higher education and broader society.


Call for Papers

Internationally, universities are using their museums and collections innovatively to create new forms of student, research and community engagement. The utility of collections for research training, object-based learning and cross-disciplinary programs is being increasingly explored and exploited in higher education. ‘New Destinations’ poses the question: ‘Are we there yet?’

The International Committee for UMAC invites proposals for its 20th Annual Conference. The theme of the conference is ‘New Destinations: Looking Forward, Looking Back. We are interested in receiving proposals that address the themes listed below.


Conference themes

Do museums and collections now represent the institutional DNA of a university?
Are university museums and collections now the central drivers of cultural production in higher education?
Do university leaders consider museums and collections to be core university business?
Is museum and collection work in higher education an emerging professional specialism?
Are university staff who work with material collections now recognised as an integral part of the global professional museum community?
How are ethnographic collections relevant to the generation of new knowledge, evolving institutional agendas and Indigenous community expectations?

The University of Sydney has substantial and highly significant Indigenous ethnographic collections. Much was acquired during a former time when Australia was on the margin of a European empire. As a special sub-theme of this conference, we consider possible new destinations for this category of university collection. Can the university museum lead the way in imagining and configuring new destinations for these collections?

Proposal submissions are due by Friday 28 February, 2020.
For more information and guidance on how to put forward a proposal visit the UMAC 2020 website.