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What are University Museums for?

5 February 13 -- jsuess

The 25th Anniversary University Museums Group Conference will be hosted by the Oxford University Museums this year on March 7th-8th.

What are University Museums for?    


Conference programme 
The UMG 25th Anniversary 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 HE but also within the wider museums sector and society.

The Conference starts on Thursday 7th March with guided tours around Oxford University Museums followed by a drinks reception at the Ashmolean with an address from former Culture Secretary, Chris Smith (Baron Smith of Finsbury).

On day two David Sweeney, Director (Research, Innovation and Skills) at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, will begin proceedings with his opening address, which will be followed by sessions exploring research impact and how university museums support and work with students. Hedley Swain, Head of Museums at Arts Council England, will start the afternoon session by examining the unique role of university museums, making the link between academic research and thinking, and public benefit. The following session will offer a further exploration of the engagement agenda and future opportunities for university museums.

As well as contributing to Conference discussions, delegates will be able to share ideas and network with colleagues.

Thursday 7th March 2013

15.00 – 16.30 Oxford University Museum Tours

Tours must be pre-booked (please note numbers are limited)

Delegates should meet at 15.00 at the museum they have booked to see.

Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road Oxford OX1 3PP

  • Conserving "Curiosities" - investigating the Cook Voyage Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Jeremy Uden, Clothworkers' Foundation Senior Conservation Fellow
  • Reconnections with historic Blackfoot shirts, Dr Laura Peers, Curator of the Americas Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum and Reader in Material Anthropology at the University of Oxford

Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PW

  • Tour of the OUM’s neo-gothic Victorian cast iron roof, Nicholas Bradley, Senior Architect, Purcell Miller Tritton and Michael Morrison, Partner Architect, Purcell Miller Tritton

Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Beaumont Street Oxford OX1 2PH

  • The new Ashmolean, Dr Christopher Brown, Director
  • Commercial enterprise – connecting with collections, Jeremy Ensor, Commercial Director

Museum of History of Science, Broad Street Oxford OX1 3AZ

  • Steampunk, Telescopes and Astrolabes: Highlights of the Museum of History of Science, Chris Parkin, Lead Education Officer

16.00 – 18.00 Registration (Ashmolean Atrium)

16.30 – 17.30 Annual General Meeting of the University Museums Group (Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean)

18.00 - 19.00 Drinks reception (Ashmolean Atrium)

19.00 – 19.45 Welcoming remarks (Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean)
Dr Christopher Brown, Director, Ashmolean Museum

Keynote address
Former Culture Secretary, Chris Smith (Baron Smith of Finsbury)

Friday 8th March

9.45 – 10.15 Refreshments and registration (Headley Lecture Theatre – please access the Ashmolean Museum via the St Giles Entrance if arriving before 10am)

10.15 –10.30 Welcome address
Dr Nick Merriman, Director, Manchester Museum and President of UMG

10.30 – 11.00 Opening address
David Sweeney, Director (Research, Innovation and Skills), Higher Education Funding Council for England

11.00 –12.00
What do university museums do for students?
Case studies and a panel discussion chaired by Sally MacDonald, Director of Museums and Public Engagement, University College London

Dr Giovanna Vitelli, Director of the University Engagement Programme, Ashmolean Museum
Rebecca Reynolds, Sessional Lecturer in Museum Studies, University of Reading
Gemma Angel, PhD Student Engager, University College London

12.00 – 13.00
Research in university museums
Panel presentations introduced and chaired by Professor Nicholas Thomas, Director, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge

Professor Paul Smith, Director, Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Professor Chris Gosden, Professor of Archaeology, University of Oxford
Professor Shearer West, Head of Humanities Division, University of Oxford (former director of research at the AHRC)

13.00 – 14.00 Lunch (provided)

14.00 – 14.45 Keynote address
Hedley Swain, Director, Museums and Renaissance, Arts Council England
‘The unique role of university museums: making the link between academic research and thinking, and public benefit’.

14.45 - 15.45 A vision for the future: what impact will university museums have in 2020?

Dr Maurice Davies, Head of Policy and Communication, Museums Association
Nick Poole, Director, Collections Trust

A provocation chaired by Professor Paul Smith, Director, Oxford University Museum of Natural History

15.45 – 16.00 Tea

16.00 – 16.30 Plenary
Chaired by Dr Nick Merriman

Booking information:

The conference fee is £45 for members and £60 for non-members and includes the museum tours and drinks reception on Thursday 7th and lunch on Friday 8th. To book a place please visit: UMG COnference online booking

If your institution is not already a UMG member and you are interested in finding out more about the benefits membership can bring please visit: Join UMG


Hotels, guesthouse and hostel accommodation is available within walking distance of the Oxford University Museums. Delegates should book with the accommodation of their choice directly as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

For availability and the latest deals:, Expedia, Visit Oxford & Oxfordshire

University Museums Group (UMG)

UMG is a membership organization which supports and advocates for the university museum sector in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. University museums in Scotland have their own organisation, UMIS which works closely with UMG. It promotes the role of university museums, galleries and collections in research and HE and the importance of their contribution to widening participation and public engagement and provides a forum for sharing knowledge and good practice.

For more information about UMG please visit: University Museums Group UK

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