April 5, 2018

Booking now open for Conference 2018

Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge

Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge

Foreign exchange?  University museums and international engagement

University of Cambridge, 3 July 2018

University Museum of Zoology, Downing Street, Cambridge


University museum collections originate from many countries. Over decades and in some cases centuries, they were created and curated through scientific fieldwork and collecting that ranged worldwide. In the present, those interested in studying collections and in borrowing art works and specimens for analysis and exhibition represent, like our students, many nations. International engagement is anything but foreign to us.


At the University Museums Group’s 2016 conference, Matt Hancock, now Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, affirmed that museums and universities are ‘absolutely central to our post-Brexit future, open and engaged with the whole world, progressive and positive in shaping how Britain sees herself and is seen the world over.’ Universities similarly express ambitions to contribute globally. In 2018, academic and cultural collaboration seems more urgent than ever, yet also more difficult, as threats to global peace and security multiply.


The University Museums Group’s 2018 conference will explore how university museums can contribute to, and even lead, universities’ efforts to engage internationally. It will consider how smaller as well as larger museums can participate in, and benefit from, international programmes. Panels will offer presentations from sponsoring bodies and case studies from museum staff, ranging over practical experience and future opportunities. We encourage open discussion of challenges and constraints, while celebrating the accomplishments and the potential of university museums to make a positive difference through international work.


The programme will include a reception at Kettle’s Yard and tours of the Museum of Zoology, both newly reopened

Speakers will include

Diane Lees CBE, Director-General, Imperial War Museum

Wayne Modest, Head, Research Centre for Material Culture, Leiden

Kate Bellamy, Director, Museums, Arts Council of England

Download the programme here: UMG Conference 2018 Programme


The cost for the day is £40 per delegate.  You can book your place online via the University of Cambridge online booking system.

September 27, 2016

Minister speaks at UMG conference

The keynote address at the 2016 UMG annual conference was delivered by the Rt Hon Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture.  This was Mr Hancock’s first major speech on museums since he was appointed to the post.

Mr Hancock used his speech to highlight the important role of universities in the development of public museums in the UK.  He then addressed some of the challenges facing museums using the conference theme of ‘Better Together’.

Looking first at how government and museums can work better together, Mr Hancock then went on to consider how museums can work better with audiences.  He finished by considering the implications of the digital age for partnership and collaboration, saying:

“As Minister for Digital and Culture, I want to drive this synthesis of culture with digital technology, and when it comes to the digitisation and dissemination of our great collections, I want Britain to be a world leader.

Because it’s at this nexus – where Tech meets art, where digital meets creativity – that we will build a strong and thriving future economy that can work for all.”

The full text of the speech can be found here.



March 13, 2014

Understanding Audiences: the popularity of Museum Galleries

Members might be interested in this new report from the Natural Sciences Collections Association Subject Specialist Network detailing the findings of an Arts Council England funded study into the audiences of mixed discipline museums.

The evaluation report offers an overview of visitors’ impressions of the display of different disciplines in mixed museums. Key findings include the gallery types museum visitors describe as their most and least favourite, how preferences are influenced by demographic variables and what aspects of these displays visitors find appealing and off-putting; all key messages for museums containing each gallery type.

The NATSCA hopes that this information will allow us to better understand how natural science galleries are perceived by the public and to allow other Subject Specialist Networks and museums to gain a deeper insight into their audiences.

Website: http://natsca.org/understanding-audiences

Full report: http://www.natsca.org/sites/default/files/publications-full/Evaluation-Report-Museum-Gallery-Preferences.pdf

The findings of this report offer many opportunities for museums with mixed collections as well as colleagues associated with individual disciplines – to better understand their visitors, and what perceptions are held by these visitors. The report is presented in its entirety in order that colleagues have access to the details, but an executive summary is provided at the start.

NatSCA welcomes any responses or questions that arise – please email Jack Ashby and Paolo Viscardi (press@natsca.org).

Expertise and teaching in conservation and museology benefits the wider museums sector