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: http://www.aamg-us.org/about-us/task-force/

A full list of Task Force Members can be found at: http://www.aamg-us.org/about-us/task-force/members.php

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)