What makes us different?

We are museums within the HE sector and HE institutions within the Museum sector. We bring collections, researchers, students and wide and diverse publics together to unlock stories, knowledge and understanding. There is no better space for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary thinking, experiment and action. We think about collections differently and we are committed to using them as a resource to advance knowledge and understanding through teaching, research and public engagement.

What difference can we make?

  • We can push at the boundaries of knowledge through our collections, with our audiences and through our unique and privileged access to the wider research community.
  • We can provide an open door to our host institutions for wide and diverse public, helping support widening participation, place making and community engagement.
  • We are ‘real world’ institutions within the university landscape and can provide students with opportunities for skills and career development and researchers with opportunities for collaborative research with wide and engaged publics.
  • We can engage with the big ideas and grand challenges that are the focus of our host institutions’ research from climate change to mental health while engaging our publics to support and disseminate this research.
  • We can support the wider museum sector through the depth of our expertise.
  • We can be leaders in the theory and practice of object-based teaching through constantly developing ways in which teaching with objects supports pedagogy and enquiry across all disciplines.
  • We can play a leading role in the thinking and practice around restitution and the development of new inclusive narrative thanks to the nature of our governance and the principles and protections of academic freedom.

What challenges do we face?

  • We can seem a luxury, tangential and inessential to our parent institutions and our principle funders’ core purposes.
  • We operate within organisations, structures and governance models that do not have the care and stewardship of collections at their heart.
  • We are threatened by the significant financial challenges faced by the HE sector and its year-to-year budget setting.
  • We rely on core-funding streams that for the most part sit outside DCMS/ACE where the case for museums is championed and best understood.
    • 12 university museums are or belong to ACE National Portfolio Organisations, receiving an average of under £200k pa of ACE funding.
  • Our single source of dedicated government core-funding, UKRI HEMG fund, has seen a real term decrease of 44% over the last two decades.
    • 33 university museums across 19 universities receive direct funding from UKRI through the HEMG fund.
  • We are denied research funding and partnership opportunities that are available to museums that are IROs.
  • We can seem larger and more secure to the museum sector and its funders than we, in fact, are.

Join us in making a difference for university museums of today, for tomorrow.



Over 170 university museums and collections in the UK

More than 100 open to the public and 77 Accredited Museums

Holding some of the nation’s most important collections

In England and Wales, we hold 30% of designated collections

Both part of a University and part of the Museum sector

From major visitor attractions to research & teaching collections


Our collections guide and inform HE research as well as community outreach and accessibility.

UCL Qatar


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