XXIII annual meeting – 4-7 July 2023, Wroclaw, Poland

4-7 July 2023, Wroclaw, Poland

The Experience of Academic Heritage

According to ICOM’s new definition of museums of 2022, museums ‘operate and communicate ethically, professionally and with the participation of communities, offering varied experiences for education, enjoyment, reflection and knowledge sharing’. How do these ways of experiencing apply to academic heritage? In this UNIVERSEUM annual meeting, we wanted to explore how this is resonating with your practice and with how your audiences are experiencing academic heritage.

We would like to move beyond only celebrating to also critically reflect about academic heritage and the experiences it offers and provides. Are there other directions in which you would like to take the interpretation and experience of university collections further? Should we be doing more with what we have? What are the opportunities and obstacles in realising our full potential within our collections, museums, institutions?

Subtheme 1: By whom and for whom?

University collections are presented in many different ways and are experienced by different communities and groups. Increasingly, university museums are working together with various groups to agree on themes, approaches, and interpretations of academic heritage.

  • How conscious are we of our curation and interpretation processes and how these are experienced by different audiences?
  • How can we find out if the experience is received as we intended and by whom? How can we learn from this? How do we react to unexpected outcomes?
  • Does who is involved in the design of these experiences affect the end result and how these are experienced?

Subtheme 2: Experiencing difficult heritage

Experiencing academic heritage can go beyond having fun and joy. They can also include encountering issues and ideas from a long history of academic practices and institutional history that make us uncomfortable and can be disturbing.

  • What is the role of university museums and collection custodians in this process?
  • How can they facilitate and encourage debates on difficult heritage in an effective way and not hide from them?

Subtheme 3: Media and methods of interpretation

When designing experiences of academic heritage, we use various means in our disposal for presenting and interpreting these. Some of these, like storytelling, have remained unchanged over the years, while others are constantly evolving, like the use of new technologies and social media.

  • How do our media and methods for setting up experiences of academic heritage, for instance the language and tools we use, affect the messages we are trying to communicate?
  • And whom do we involve in the process of selecting and designing interpretative tools and approaches?
  • How can we evaluate their effectiveness?

During the 2023 Universeum meeting, we want to explore different ways of encouraging discussion and debate, as well as allow as many voices from the community to be heard as possible. We would like to combine short papers, with longer in-depth contributions that reflect more broadly on these themes rather than present specific projects, as well as invite dialogue and discussions from all participants.

Registration is now open !

Registration is now open for the next UNIVERSEUM conference hosted by the University of Wroclaw, Poland, 4th-7th July.
In order to register,  please use the form or link below:

Lunches and diners will be offered by the Polish association of University museum (SUM).
Cocktail reception on the 4th of July will be offered by the University of Wroclaw.

As part of UNIVERSEUM’s practice to keep the annual conference as inclusive as possible, registration is free of charge. Part of the costs of this are covered by the annual membership fees, which also cover travel grants. If you haven’t paid yet your annual membership or want to become member, you will find all necessary information on the UNIVERSEUM website:  https://www.universeum-network.eu/become-a-member/


Format of submissions

Under these themes, we invite proposals for:

  • 5-minute talks
  • 15-minute talks
  • posters

Guidelines for submissions

Abstracts need to include:

i) introduction / problematization / context
ii) main arguments / methods / discussion
iii) results or conclusion.

We are open to different approaches and perspectives that encourage reflection and discussion. Below are some indicative approaches you can follow in your submission.

  • Case studies
    We are interested in current or new and innovative approaches to offer and provide experiences of academic heritage. It can be the objects or buildings themselves, exhibitions and events, but also activities like research, teaching, public engagement and knowledge exchange. Are there any lessons that you learned from sth you tried, even if, or actually, especially if it wasn’t successful?
    Guidelines for proposals:

    • The talk must show something from which we can learn for our own practice. The examples should be transferable!
    • The talk must clearly show and delineate which kind of experiences were created, with whom, and for which kind of audience
    • The talk should evaluate outcomes and impacts of the example and clarify the criteria which are used for the evaluation
    • The talk should reflect on the lessons learned
  • Reflections
    Any kind of research and reflection on academic heritage in its role of offering and providing experiences. It can be research on academic heritage itself, methods of presentation or exhibiting, activities and activity types, on conceptual or strategic questions, or on infrastructural situations or requirements
    Guidelines for proposals:

    • The talk must deliver a thorough analysis or reflection and include all necessary perspectives and criteria. We should learn something from it!
    • The talk must clearly show the kind of experiences it reflects on or analyses, and which audiences and stakeholders are involved
    • The talk must make its methodology clear and outline the methods of data acquisition and evaluation
  • Strategies
    How should academic heritage be developed and configured on the conceptual and infrastructural level to be able to deliver experiences to various communities? What is our value proposition? For whom do we enable experiences of academic heritage? Who are our partners within and outside of universities?
    Guidelines for proposals:

    • The talk must clearly “make a point” on which we can agree or disagree and on which we can have a debate
    • The talk reflects on, if applicable, which specific national or cultural situation it is based on and makes that clear. Bonus points for trying to make the strategic deliberations transferable (or reflect on that)
    • The talk must clarify the spectrum of possible experiences of academic heritage it is about and what kind of audiences are possibly involved
    • The talk takes all necessary stakeholders in consideration and reflects on the specific role of academic heritage within higher education systems

How to submit ?

The conference language is English. We welcome contributions from cultural heritage professionals and academics, but also students who are encouraged to present.

Download the abstract template : Universeum_abstract_template_2023

Please send your abstract proposal (max. 200 words), with an indication of the session you are submitting to (sub-theme 1, sub-theme 2, or 3), plus a short biographical note highlighting main research interests and/or field of professional experience (max. 50 words) to the following email address using the abstract template by tuesday 7th March 2023: sekretarz.muzeauczelniane@gmail.com

Programme Committee:

  • Frédérique Andry-Cazin, Sorbonne University (France), Treasurer of UNIVERSEUM
  • Natalia Bahlawan, Jagiellonian University Museum (Poland)
  • Esther Boeles, University of Amsterdam (NL), Secretary of UNIVERSEUM
  • Marek Bukowski, Medical University of Gdańsk (Poland), Vice-President of the Polish Association of University Museums
  • Maria Economou, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow (UK), Vice-President of UNIVERSEUM
  • Hubert Kowalski, Warsaw University (Poland), President of the Polish Association of University Museums
  • Magdalena Muskała, Medical University of Białystok (Poland), Vice-President of the Polish Association of University Museums
  • Marta Piszczatowska, Warsaw University Museum (Poland), Vice-President of the Polish Association of University Museums
  • Joanna Ślaga, Jagiellonian University Museum (Poland), Vice-President of the Polish Association of University Museums
  • Sébastien Soubiran, University of Strasbourg (France), President of UNIVERSEUM
  • Martin Stricker, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Germany), Vice-President of UNIVERSEUM
  • Marta Szaszkiewicz, (Museum of the University of Gdańsk), (Poland), Secretary of the Polish Association of University Museums