UMAC Award 2019


The winner of the UMAC Award 2019 was announced during the 19th UMAC Annual General Assembly, 3 September 2019, in Kyoto:

Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Mind the Gut Project (2017-2018)

Ken Arnold, Medical Museion Director, and Adam Bencard, receive the UMAC Award 2019 from the Vice-President of ICOM Laishun AN (photo S. Soubiran).

The  Mind the Gut project is a combined exhibition, curatorial experiment, acquisition program, public events, and platform for public research and teaching at  Medical Museion in Copenhagen.

Mind the Gut, 2018 (courtesy Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen).

It examines the relationship between brain, bowels, and the trillions of microbes that inhabit them, and asks how the relationship between feelings and digestion has been understood over time. The exhibition brings together artworks, historical artefacts from the collections, new items from contemporary laboratories, and personal stories. These components were put together by an interdisciplinary team of curators, scientists, and artists over two years, addressing contemporary trends in co-curation.

Mind the Gut more images and in the Danish Press

Mind the Gut video ‘The Swallow and the Squeeze’

See also the  paper: Adam Bencard & Louise Emma Whiteley (2018), Mind the Gut—displaying microbiome research through artistic collaboration, Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease, 29: 2.

In the words of the UMAC 2019 Award Committee:

“‘Mind the gut’ is an innovative way of working co-curation in the design of an exhibition with great impact. The display emphasizes exploration over explanation. It does not aim to give answers but encourage visitors to ask themselves their own questions. It is an inspiration for many university museum exhibitions, and not only about medicine.”

“Extraordinarily original approach to a research topic of broad cultural and social interest.”



Art Museum, University of Toronto, Canada

Figures of Sleep and the Night of Ideas (2018)

Jon Sasaki, A Rest, 2016. Video, 10:20 min. Based on a choreographed solo performed by James Phillips originally commissioned by the Toronto Dance Theatre. Courtesy of the artist and Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto (Figures of Sleep, Night of Ideas 2018, Art Museum at the University of Toronto).

Figures of Sleep was a major international art exhibition at the  Art Museum, University of Toronto, paired with Night of Ideas, an intensive all-night forum of screenings, performances and public debates on the question Is sleep in crisis? The conjoined event brought artists’ existential and political concerns with sleep into dynamic dialogue with the latest scientific and humanities research into the meaning of downtime, the health impact of sleeplessness, the cultural importance of dreaming, and the architecture of the bedroom. Welcoming over 7,000 visitors, the project explored a timely subject through cross-disciplinary perspectives, shaping a new model of social engagement for a university gallery.

Night of Ideas promo

Night of Ideas more images

In the words of the UMAC 2019 Award Committee:

“Fantastic! An innovative approach to programming that is transferable for any museum-specific concept, specific programs, and scale for programming.”

“Original and very rich. This project really makes you want to spend a night at the museum!”


Shanghai University (SHU)-Nagasaki International University (NIU), China-Japan

SHU-NIU Short-term Museology Internship Program (2018, ongoing)

Students from the SHU-NIU program (courtesy Shanghai University Museum).

Submitted to the UMAC Award 2019 by the Shanghai University Museum, the SHU-NIU Short-term Museology Internship Exchange Program is an international training program for graduate and undergraduate students, as well as museum curators. The program started in 2016, when SHU sent 16 students and two faculty to NIU for a systematic learning program about museology, including lectures, operation and field visits of national museums. Since the 2nd year, NIU started sending students and faculty members to SHU too, for museum study visits and Chinese culture lessons. The program has continued for 3 years and have made a significant impact on the students involved.

SHU-NIU program comments from students

SHU-NIU program more photos

In the words of the UMAC 2019 Award Committee:

“An excellent international program focused on cultural exchange.”

“A well-structured, diverse and rich training program that touches both local cultures and a more global culture resonating with all of us.”



Barbara Rothermel, Vice-Chair UMAC, USA
Graciela Weisinger Cordero, Vice-Chair UMAC, Argentina
Laishun An, Vice-President of ICOM, China
Muriel Guedj, Université de Montpellier, France

Terry Simioti Nyambe, ICOM Executive Council Member, Zambia
Chair (non-voting): Ing-Marie Munktell, Sweden