Annual meeting ICOM-UMAC & UNIVERSEUM – 24-29 septembre 2024, Dresden, Germany

Logo UMAC Universeum 2024
Logo UMAC Universeum 2024

Joint Annual Meeting of ICOM-UMAC and UNIVERSEUM
TUD Dresden University of Technology │ September 24th to 29th, 2024

From September 24th to 29th, 2024, ICOM-UMAC, the International Council of Museums’ Committee for University Museums and Collections, and the European Academic Heritage Network UNIVERSEUM will hold their first joint annual meeting at TUD Dresden University of Technology in Dresden, Germany. The conference, hosted by TUD’s Office of Academic Heritage, Scientific, and Art Collections, will be held on-site, with selected keynotes streamed online. The conference language is English.

In a world undergoing profound processes of transformation, societal, political, and environmental changes are increasingly impacting all areas of human life.  For university collections and museums, such developments present both challenges and opportunities. The way academic heritage is perceived and the infrastructures dedicated to its management and care are currently in a state of flux, leading sometimes to decline, sometimes to new life. Looking back, similar developments have affected academic heritage at various points in history, and they are likely to do so in the years to come.

These processes of transformation and transition, their impact on university collections and museums, and how we respond to them both individually and as a community, will be the overarching theme of the 2024 Dresden conference.

Registration for the joint annual meeting of ICOM-UMAC and UNIVERSEUM in Dresden 2024 now open

To register, please visit the registration portal.


1. University Collections and Museums Addressing Challenge and Transition

Although academic institutions all over the world follow the same core mission in education and research, change affects them in different ways. The same is true for the collections and museums safeguarding academic heritage. External factors such as economic or societal shifts can directly impact their work and outlook, highlighting a state and position that are often precarious. At the same time, internal processes, such as critical research from within the academic community, are increasingly questioning systems of power and knowledge as well as identity and ownership, pushing for a fundamental reassessment of collecting practices and object use. As a result, academic heritage institutions are increasingly faced with a need to question and redefine their roles, both in an institutional context and in wider society.

  • How can we embrace these challenges as opportunities for transformation and change?
  • How can we harness their potential to actively shape rather than merely passively accept transformation?
  • How do challenges and transitions affect the way we approach and (re-)think academic heritage?

2. Activating University Collections for Research and Teaching in Times of Change

Within the unique environment of academic institutions standing at the forefront of knowledge production and higher education, university museums and collections harbor great potential. As custodians of academic heritage, they carry an obligation to actively contribute to their institution’s mission. To fulfill this role, they need to develop and apply innovative approaches to object-based research and teaching. While working with physical objects remains at the core of this task, the digital transformation has opened new ways for collection-oriented work. From digital research infrastructures to AI and beyond, virtual tools present both major possibilities and challenges for object-based teaching and research as well as collection management and outreach.

  • How can academic objects and collections be “activated” for current and future research and teaching?
  • What skills and strategies are needed for successful object-based teaching and research, especially in times of change?
  • How can university collections and museums best address the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital transformation?

3. Academic Heritage Institutions as Places of Exchange and Discourse

Against the backdrop of increasing fragmentation both on an institutional and disciplinary level, spaces that allow for open dialogue and debate beyond these limits are needed now more than ever. They gain particular significance in times of crisis and transition, as they can offer platforms of dialogue, inviting individuals from diverging backgrounds to tackle issues and share ideas. University collections and museums, in their diversity, constitute ideal environments for such encounters. They harbor great potential for building bridges, both within the academic community and beyond. Also, serving as access hubs for broader audiences, they can help strengthen their institutions’ integration into society at large.

  • In what ways can university museums and collections facilitate and shape exchange processes?
  • How can they serve as hubs of dialogue and debate within the academic sphere?
  • How can they enhance the visibility of academic discourse by supporting knowledge transfer and participation among wider and more inclusive audiences?


The organizers invite contributions on all aspects of the conference theme. We welcome proposals for the following formats:

Paper Presentations

Paper presentations may address any aspect of the conference theme and its three sub-topics.
Speaking time is strictly limited to 15 minutes.  Papers will be grouped into thematic panels with time for joint discussions at the end.

Flash Talks

Flash talks offer participants the opportunity to present projects, topics, and questions related to the conference theme in a concise format.
Speaking time is strictly limited to 5 minutes. Flash talks will be grouped into thematic panels, with time for joint discussions at the end.


A poster session will showcase ongoing projects in the academic heritage community. All topics are welcome. Posters will be exhibited physically and should be printed in A1 portrait format (594mm × 841mm).

Project Speed Dating

This newly launched format offers the opportunity to present new projects or project ideas by individuals or teams looking for partners or collaborations. All topics are welcome.
Speaking time is strictly limited to 5 minutes. Presentations will be grouped together in a panel, followed by time to connect on a one-to-one basis.

Round Tables

Round tables offer the chance to approach key topics in a broader perspective. Short keynotes presented by speakers on stage will serve as points of departure for a joint discussion with the audience. We welcome proposals for keynotes addressing the following topics:

  • Collaborative Practices: Cross-encounters between Art and Science in University Collections
  • Difficult Heritage: Provenance and Restitution
  • Shaping Transformation: Future Perspectives for University Collections and Museums

Speaking time for keynotes is strictly limited to 5 minutes. Each round table will feature 3 to 4 speakers.


Both ICOM-UMAC and UNIVERSEUM offer a limited number of travel grants for conference participants.


What to submit

Proposals for paper presentations, posters, flash talks, project speed dating, and round tables should include:

– a title
– an abstract (max. 250 words)
– a biographical note (max. 50 words)
– 3 to 5 keywords

Applications for the pre-conference workshops should include
– a letter of motivation (workshops 1 and 2) OR an abstract (workshop 3) (max. 500 words)
– a short CV (max. 250 words)
For detailed information, visit:

Applications for the travel grants should include
– a letter of motivation (max. 500 words)
– a short CV (max. 250 words)
For detailed information, visit:

Where to submit

Submissions and applications will be accepted exclusively via the conference’s online submission portal. To access the portal, visit:

Deadline : now closed


The conference will be preceded by three pre-conference workshops, to be held on Tuesday, September 24th, 2024, from 1:30 to 5:30 pm.

Workshop 1:
Natural Science Objects in Digital Collections: Opportunities and Challenges

Hosted by the Chair of Botany, TUD Dresden University of Technology and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Pietism Research at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in cooperation with the Saxon State and University Library

Natural History objects in collections and their metadata are increasingly being made accessible with the help of digital technologies, so that purely physical collections are becoming part of a powerful and comprehensive knowledge base. In this workshop, we will share experiences of using digitized collections and Linked Data in multidisciplinary approaches. A joint research project will serve as the basis for discussing opportunities and challenges.

Workshop 2:
Questioning Collections

Hosted by the Coordination Centre for Scientific University Collections in Germany

The workshop addresses the potential of collections from an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspective and poses a wide variety of questions about objects. Drawing on examples from the various collections held at TUD Dresden University of Technology, we will consider materiality, provenance, and use of collections within academic contexts together with collection managers and workshop participants.

Workshop 3:
Object-Based Teaching and Learning Today

Hosted by the ERASMUS+ project “Teaching with Objects”

Object-based Teaching and Learning (OBTL) is of key significance for higher education, academic heritage, and university museums and collections worldwide. The ERASMUS+ project “Teaching with Objects,” supported by UNIVERSEUM, invites practitioners, researchers, and curators to share their approaches to OBTL in short presentations. We will discuss the current state of OBTL and its wider role for education and collections.

Office for Academic Heritage, Scientific and Art Collections at TUD Dresden University of Technology

TU Dresden possesses a major and unique stock of historical and current exhibits from academic teaching, research, and art. It consists of  40 collections from the fields of science and technology, as well as a significant number of works pertaining to art in Saxony after 1945.

The Office for Academic Heritage, Scientific and Art Collections is the central institution with responsibility for the preservation of the collection items. Additionally, it is the mission of the office to continually survey the collections in light of the ever-changing nature of research and knowledge, integrate them into current contexts, and facilitate their accessibility to a wider public. Through its multifaceted research, collection, and exhibition activities, the Office for Academic Heritage, Scientific and Art Collections forges links between the natural, engineering, and human sciences, as indeed between science and art, the past and the present.



UMAC is the international committee for university museums and collections of the International Council of Museums,  ICOM. It is an international forum for all those working in, or associated with, academic museums, galleries and collections.

UMAC is the global advocate for higher education museums and collections of all disciplines. UMAC’s mission is to contribute to society, for the benefit of all, by sustaining the continued development of university museums and collections as essential resources devoted to research, education, and the preservation of cultural, historic, natural and scientific heritage.


UNIVERSEUM European Academic Heritage Network

Universeum is a European network, established in the year 2000, concerned with academic heritage in its broadest sense, both tangible and intangible. It aims at the preservation, study, access and promotion of university collections, museums, archives, libraries, botanical gardens,  astronomical observatories, etc. It is open to heritage and museum professionals, researchers, students, university administrators and all those involved in university heritage.


Find all the informations about accomodations HERE

Questions regarding the event may be addressed to:
Else Schlegel