The Future of University Museums Workshop Day

Tuesday 17 September 2019
University College London

View the programme.

This year’s annual UMG event attracted more than 80 attendees from across the UK and representing a wider diversity of university  museums than previous conferences. Attendees were welcomed by Caroline McDonald, event lead and UMG Committee Member, and  Katrina Nilsson, newly appointed Director of Museums and Public Programmes, UCL Culture.

Caroline facilitated a morning of quick fire talks from three high level policy makers representing UMG’s key stakeholder – universities in the UK: Michael Thompson, Deputy Director of Comms and External Relations, Universities UK; Professor Jane Robinson, Dean of Engagement and Place, Newcastle University, and Ed Davison, Head of the CEO’s Office, Office for Students.

These talks, and the willingness of the speakers to engage frankly with questions, resulted in a very valuable session, combining clear, concise and information-packed presentations together with open discussion of current drivers, challenges and opportunities. The morning rounded off with the three being asked for their ‘top tips’ for UMGs, with responses including  the importance of  communication with our universities to demonstrate how UMGs enhance the distinctiveness of our universities, sharing best examples with senior colleagues  to raise visibility, and making sure that UMGs are in the loop with the Civic Universities Agreement to which over 40 HEIs have signed up.

Presentations are available to download:

Michael Thompson, Universities UK
Jane Robinson, Newcastle University
Ed Davison, Office for Students

After a lunch break, attendees split into three working groups – Teaching and the University Museum, facilitated by Kate Dunton, Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, UEA; Research Impact and the University Museum, facilitated by Xa Sturgis, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and Engagement, Civic Place and the Potential of the University Museum, facilitated by Caroline McDonald, Great North Museum, Newcastle. Good practice – as well as some frustrations – were shared in these sessions.

The AGM followed, with a new constitution and new committee members approved: Xa Sturgis, Carol Shiels, St George’s University of London, Harriet Warburton, Oxford University Gardens, Libraries and Museums and  Janneke Geene, Manchester Metropolitan Museum.

Download the Minutes

The new subscription year for UMG will recommence in 2020, and in the meanwhile, attendees were encouraged to join now, if not already members, (with no membership fee requested at this time) to remain in the loop for future communications.

Attendees were invited to provide feedback, reflecting on the format, timing and location of the event, and responses should be sent to Nicola Kalinsky.

UMG will be hosting a coffee networking session at the MA conference in Brighton on Friday 4 October from 10-10.50am, and  it is hoped that members and interested parties attending will come along and continue the discussions.

The day was organised by Tannis Davidson and colleagues from UCL Culture, with AGM paperwork prepared by Jo Mcphee, University of Cambridge Museums.

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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