FlandersInteruniversity Platform for Academic Heritage

The Interuniversity Platform for Academic Heritage is a collaboration between 4 universities in Flanders. The Platform originated in 2007, when representatives of KU Leuven, Ghent University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the University of Antwerp begun consultation on their academic heritage.

The mission of the Platform is to:

  • Gain an overview of academic heritage in institutes for higher education in Flanders (both universities and colleges)
  • Design long-term strategies for the professional management of academic collections (e.g. dealing with digitization)
  • Make university boards aware of the necessity of professional policies on academic heritage
  • gain and exchange expertise on academic heritage in Flanders
  • Make academic collections known beyond their limited niches

The project ‘Balans en Perspectief’ is a decisive step in achieving these goals. Receiving funding from the Flemish Government, the project is being conducted in 2 phases (2011-2012 and 2013-2014).

For more information see: http://academischerfgoed.be/in-english/

Contact: Geert Vanpaemel (KU Leuven):  Geert.Vanpaemel@kuleuven.be


Network of University Collections in Germany

German universities hold more than 800 scientific collections with a wide variety of objects from almost all disciplines. They form a fundamental basis for research and teaching and are an important part of the academic heritage. In order to improve the visibility of the collections and to fully explore their potential, collection professionals from universities all over Germany have been working together for several years. Since 2010, the network has organised annual conferences.

As a result, the national coordination centre for university collections was established in 2012, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The centre supports university collections as infrastructures for research and teaching, provides location- and discipline-independent assistance, and thus enables the collections to make coordinated conceptual decisions. A digital platform offers comprehensive information on scientific collections and their objects to make the collections readily available for research, teaching and education.

Homepage: http://wissenschaftliche-sammlungen.de

Contact: Martin Stricker, Coordination office for scientific university collections in Germany


Association of University Museums in Poland

The last three years (2016 -2018) have been very busy for the Association of University Museums in Poland. We focused on intensive development of our activity and enforcement of the idea of the Association. Our main goal was to spread the information about our initiative and to collect data about all kinds of university museums and collections in Poland.

Our activities have been multi-directional. We have prepared a new catalogue of museums in Poland. This presents 51 university museums and 10 selected objects from their collections in a hard-cover,  it is a 361-page publication. In addition, we conducted a survey within the Polish university colleges regarding museums and collections. It revealed a total number of 180? University museums and collections in Poland. Now we want to verify the accuracy of this survey result. This publication took the first place in the category “Museum publishing” during the 12th edition of the “Mazovian museum events – Willow” competition.

At the same time, we also stressed the importance of direct contact and discussion between colleagues from different museums. In order to empower this, we organised 3 conferences of the Polish Association of University Museums.

In 2016 representatives of 45 university museums met for the first time in such a big representation to get to know each other better and to share experiences with managing their museums and collections. An important issue raised was how to cooperate with the university authorities and higher management. The subsequent year (2017) the conference titled “Identity and heritage. University museums” took place in Krakow. The main topics were:

  • Heritage and identity,
  • Museum practices,
  • Popularization of academic heritage

We concluded this conference with a more accurate plan of our activities for 2018.

Last but not least, during the Łodź conference we honoured Prof. Stanisław Waltoś, former Director of the Jagiellonian University Museum in Krakow with the first Honorary Membership of our Association. Our last conference took place in Łódź in October 2018 titled “University Museums: Challenges, Threats, Opportunities”. Following these themes, we at first discussed the new law [Science 2.0] and how this affects universities in Poland, as well as how the situation of university museums is affected by the new regulations. It was pointed out that our Association as whole, as well as each separate museum have to take an active role to protect and improve the status of museums. For the first time, we set up 5 working groups, which were working during the conference. There were:

  • building records and management,
  • mission and strategy, collection policy,
  • medical collections,
  • natural collections,
  • scientific instruments, catalogues of distributed collections.

The groups addressed problematic issues and strengths of university museums.  We aim to develop these to create a good practice catalogue.

Now we are planning to update our website to make it more interactive and functional for the working groups and for other initiatives inside AUM. Additionally, the English version of our latest catalogue (which was also updated) will be prepared and published.

Currently the association has 73 individual members and 18 institutional members.

Contact: Marek Bukowski, Museum of Medical University of  Gdańsk


Portuguese network of university museums and collections

Although not formally constituted, the Portuguese network of university museums and collections has been actively engaged in working together in specific thematic projects for many years – for example GBIF Portugal, NATCOL (the Portuguese network of natural history museums) and the Thesaurus Network, which is developing, in collaboration with Brazil, a thesaurus of scientific instruments in Portuguese.

There are 12 public universities in Portugal and all have collections. However, cultural and scientific heritage is mostly concentrated at the universities of Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra.

In 2013, the Universities of Lisbon, Coimbra and Porto, together with the Tropical Research Institute, have submitted an application to be come a national research infrastructure – PRISC, the Portuguese Research Infrastructure of Scientific Collections.

Contact: Marta C. Lourenço, National Museum of Natural History and Science, University of Lisbon, mclourenco@museus.ul.pt


SAE – The Dutch Foundation for Academic Heritage

SAE is a network in which the following Dutch Universities participate:

The University of Amsterdam

The technical University of Delft 

The Technical University of Eindhoven

The University of Groningen

Leiden University

Maastricht University

Radboud University Nijmegen

Tilburg University

VU University Amsterdam

Utrecht University

Wageningen UR

And in which Museum Boerhaave (on the history of science) participates as an associate member.

The Foundation forms a network for collection keepers at the universities, it looks for funding for national projects and it promotes the collections within and outside the Universities.

Recent projects:

In 2012 a portal to Dutch Academic Heritage was launched, in which collection level descriptions are matched with item-level descriptions, at the same time museum objects are combined with library and archival-collections.  www.academischecollecties.nl

In 2014 we started a project called The great Wikipedia Expedition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/Expeditions

www.medischerfgoed.nl is a website on Medical Academic Heritage, commissioned by the SAE.


Contact: Frank Meijer (coordinator): f.t.meijer@academischerfgoed.nl


Swiss Network for Scientific Collections

With 12 universities and several major research infrastructures, Switzerland has a very dense scientific research landscape. However, its academic heritage has been treated quite modest. Based on a conference in September 2013 which had been attended by more than 50 persons – museum professionals, curators and researchers of scientific collections – a working group will be found in early 2014. The working group will focus on a stronger collaboration between museums and universities to ensure a better accessibility, visibility and usability of scientific collections as research infrastructures and academic heritage in Switzerland. A trilingual homepage will be launched in 2014 URL: http://www.wss-css.ch or http://www.wissenschaftlichesammlungen.ch

Contact: Flavio Häner, Pharmazie-Historisches Museum, University of Basel, flavio.haener@unibas.ch



The University Museums Group (UMG) 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.

There are around a 100 university museums in the UK regularly accessible to the public, with a further 300 or more that are used mainly for academic research and teaching.  UMG is a membership organisation, open to HE institutions with responsibility for museums, galleries or collections and individuals interested in furthering the work of UMG.

UMG provides a forum for communication and the dissemination of good practice.  In advocating for the university museum sector, UMG promotes the role of university museums, galleries and collections in research and HE teaching and the importance of their contribution to widening participation and public engagement.

Contact: Kate Arnold-Forster, University Museums and Special Collections Services, Reading University, k.arnold-forster@reading.ac.uk




Scotland’s university museums care for over 1.9 million items, including 32% of the nation’s science history, 31% of its coins & medals, 24% of fine art, 20% of natural science, and 18% of world culture. Collections held by five of our members, including the entire holdings of the Universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow, are Recognised as nationally important by the Scottish Government. Together, in 2012-13 the museums responded to over 3,500 research requests, while over 4000 students who took part in classes involving the museums. Our work with the wider public attracted over 300,000 visits to the museums, with almost 20,000 people taking part in a wide range of events, activities for schools and outreach activities.

University Museums in Scotland (UMIS) draws together the museums of Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, Stirling, Glasgow School of Art, Heriot Watt University, Robert Gordon University and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. A collaborative project supported by the Scottish Funding Council has created an online portal to electronic records of the collections of member institutions, which is available on the UMIS website at www.umis.ac.uk.

Contact: Neil CurtisKing’s Museum,University of Aberdeenneil.curtis@abdn.ac.uk