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.


Full report:

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 (

March 13, 2014

Task Force for the Protection of University Collections

We would like to bring members’ attention to the existence of a Task Force for the Protection of University Collections established in 2009 under the umbrella of the AAMG – Association of Academic Museums and Galleries in the USA.

Catherine Giltrap, Trinity College Dublin, and Steph Scholten, Director of Heritage Collections at The University of Amsterdam have recently joined the Task Force to act as the first European Representatives.

Request for advance notification of risks to university collections in Europe

Catherine and Steph would like to request that UMG and UMIS colleagues inform them of potentially high risk situations where colleagues working with university museums, galleries and collections find themselves, or are aware of others, in a situation where the university is proceeding in a manner that treats the collections as ‘disposable assets’, such as proposing to sell objects or collections for reasons other than benefiting the development of the collections themselves and without due consultation with the appropriate local experts.

While the Task Force has no legal standing, what is offered is professional support at the highest of levels and a willingness to overtly exert pressure in the court of public opinion and to taking steps to make it difficult for universities to contemplate selling their collections for endowment or general operating support.

Please refer to this website for full details:

A full list of Task Force Members can be found at:

ICOM UMAC resolution on the Protection of University Collections

At the ICOM UMAC meeting in August 2013, UMAC adopted a resolution in support of the work of the Task Force; the resolution is in keeping with ICOM’s Code of Ethics for Museums and the Council of Europe’s recommendation on the governance and management of university heritage, as well as the AAMD (Association of Art Museum Directors, USA) Professional Practices in Art Museums and the AAM (American Alliance of Museums)

November 12, 2013

Impact and Engagement: University Museums for the 21st century

Impact and Engagement Document

Impact and Engagement Document

A joint publication of the University Museums Group (UMG) and University Museums in Scotland (UMIS)

“A University Museum is a space to encounter extraordinary collections, take part in intellectually rewarding events, witness inspirational teaching and engage with ground-breaking research”

A new publication to highlight the outstanding contribution made by UK University Museums will be launched by Mark Taylor, Director of the Museums Association at the Museums Association Conference in Liverpool on Tuesday, 12 November, 2014.

This report celebrates the growing success of University museums as part of the UK higher education sector and their unique contribution to the public profile of universities across the UK.  University Museums hold 30% of nationally-significant collections but constitute only 4% of England and Wales’ museums.  In Scotland, three university museums alone hold 14% of nationally-significant collections. 

The report shows how University Museums deliver unique benefits to the HE and wider cultural sector and have demonstrated exceptional performance in  leveraging funding, with  the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) core funding having  enabled an increase of non-HE funding by 179 per cent to £20.34 million over the last five years. Resourcing from the Scottish Further and Higher Education Council (SFC) has recently increased its museums, galleries and collections grant to £6 million over five academic years and extended the number of universities receiving the grant from five to nine to include all higher education institutions which have nationally accredited collections.

Kate Arnold Forster and Sally MacDonald, joint chairs of the University Museums Group: “This report celebrates the exceptional contribution that University Museums make to the quality and impact of academic research, to teaching and the student experience, to the profile of universities nationally and internationally as well as their economic and social contributions as visitor attractions and cultural destinations.  We hope this report provides a valuable perspective on the great potential of University Museums to enhance the quality and vitality of higher education in challenging economic times.

November 11, 2013

UMG on Twitter

To accompany the launch of our new advocacy document on Tuesday 12th November 2013 at the Museums Association Conference, the UMG has created a new Twitter account @UnivMuseumsGrp.

The twitter presence will aim to complement the UMGs wider advocacy work by promoting the advocacy document and our updated website, as well as raising awareness of the diversity and activities of university museums.

We have set up several series of regular tweets to ensure there is regular and interesting output from the account.  At the moment these are:

#UnivMus  a daily tweet (Monday-Friday) showcasing a single university museum, linking to its web page (and twitter name if it has one).  These will kick off on Monday 11th November 2013 with the Victoria Museum and Gallery in Liverpool; after that we have scheduled them in more or less random order to demonstrate the range and diversity of university museums.  If there are particular dates which it would be appropriate to schedule your museum (or any other museum) it is very easy to adjust the scheduling to allow this – for example if a museum has a major event or anniversary, or there is a wider event such as the Festival of Archaeology or Science week.  To do this please contact Liz Hide at University of Cambridge.

#inspiringprojects   a weekly series showcasing interesting and impactful projects from across the University Museum sector.   Initially this will work its way through the list of projects featured as case studies in the Advocacy document but hopefully will expand and continue to feature more projects from the list of case studies sent in by museums.

#TopFacts   an occasional series of juicy facts about University Museums, taken from the UMG advocacy document (for example, ‘nearly 4 million people visited a University Museum in 2012-13’).

All of this promises to add a very significant dimension to UMG’s advocacy work and audience reach.  If you’re not already on twitter, you should be able to see the tweeting activity by clicking on

October 31, 2013

Launch of new Advocacy document at Museums Association Conference

We are delighted to tell you that we will be launching our Advocacy document – Impact and Engagement: University Museums for the 21st century – at a reception at the Museums Association Conference in Liverpool on Tuesday 12 November at lunchtime (1pm-2.30pm) in room 4b. If you are going to be at Conference that day, you are warmly invited to join us for the launch reception. Mark Taylor, the Director of the MA will speak at the event.

For those who cannot make the event,  we will be mailing a batch of copies of the document to all UMG and UMIS members, as well as to key stakeholders and funding bodies. There will also be an online version available on the this website.

May 7, 2013

Lecture: Where have we come from, where are we, and where might we be going?

25 years of changing attitudes to museums and galleries

Maurice Davies, Museums Association

School of Arts and Humanities, Nottingham Trent University

Wednesday 5th June 2013

Maurice Davies, Head of policy and communications at the Museums Association and well-known spokesman on museum affairs has been appointed visiting professor in the School of Arts and Humanities, Nottingham Trent University. The inaugural lecture by Professor Maurice Davies, entitled: Where have we come from, where are we, and where might we be going? 25 years of changing attitudes to museums and galleries will take place on Wednesday 5 June 2013 at Nottingham Trent University, 6.00pm for 6.30 lecture. This a TICKETED EVENT and includes refreshments.  If UMG members would like to attend please Jane Haddon.

The event forms part of the two-day East Midlands Heritage conference:, which will also include an alumni event on the evening of Thursday 6 June to celebrate 21 years of the MA/PGDip Museum & Heritage Management programme at Nottingham Trent University. Further details from Deb Skinner.

April 11, 2013

What are university museums for? Presentations now available online

The UMG 25th anniversary conference, What are university museums for?, held at the Ashmolean Museum was a sellout success.

Speaker presentations are now available to download from this website, look under ‘case studies’.  You can also follow a link to the Oxford Aspire website to watch a video of each presentation.

March 25, 2013

Assistant Curator, University of Aberdeen

The post of Assistant Curator (Scientific Instruments Project) is now being advertised on the University of Aberdeen’s jobs page ( For a  short link to the advert see:

The University of Aberdeen requires an Assistant Curator to work on the Recognition Fund project ‘Discovering Scientific Instruments: improving access to the collection’ to significantly improve the documentation and storage of the University’s collection of over 3000 scientific instruments. We will engage experts in Aberdeen and elsewhere to share their knowledge to inventory and catalogue the collection and a further estimated 700 items that are currently completely inaccessible due to poor storage. A priority is building collaboration with museums and academics, with an inaugural seminar and then expert visits, culminating in a workshop/partnership event for other museums and experts to share knowledge and experiences. As this post is funded by a Museum Recognition Fund grant it will be offered for a period of 9 months. Salary will be at the appropriate point on the Grade 5 scale (£25,504 – £28,685 per annum), with placement according to qualifications and experience.

For further details, please contact Neil Curtis:

March 6, 2013

UMG Annual General Meeting

The AGM of the University Museums Group will be held during our 25th anniversary conference at the Ashmolean Museum on Thursday 7th March.

At the AGM we will be electing individuals to three positions on the Committee:

  • Chair
  • Treasurer
  • Committee member

Nominations were due by Friday 22nd February.  In the event of more candidates being nominated than positions, an election will be held by ballot at the AGM itself.  Each member institution shall have the right to nominate a committee member or alternate to represent it and to vote if required.

March 6, 2013

What are University Museums For?

The 25th Anniversary Conference of the University Museums Group

Oxford University Museums 7-8th March 2013

This conference offers an opportunity to examine the value, impact and diversity of university museums.

Whilst reflecting on the contribution of university museums to the higher education sector over the last 25 years, the conference will focus on their role today, not just within Higher Education but also within the wider museum sector and society.

You can download the conference programme here.  UMG 25th anniversary conference programme

Schools and colleges access research expertise and work experience opportunities


Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge