By Sarah Gambell, Glasgow University
Day one of the Universeum XX annual meeting, hosted by the Mendel Museum of Masaryk University in Brno, kicked off with lively introductions by several of the organisers bringing welcomes and caveats and good wishes. With the framing comments out of the way, the group delved into the first panel of talks, centered around theme 1 of the conference: “Difference makes the difference: University museums, Museology and the value of interdisciplinary interpretation of museum collections”; these speakers brought up themes in museum practice relating to agency, changing methods of interpretation, critical citizenship, and knowledge exchange.
On their heels were the 5′ minute lightning talks; intense dives into topics such as museums and climate change, new networks for understanding the world to be discovered in collections, and the big one: multidisciplinarity. Besides the overarching issue (globally in the negative) of “funding”, no concept is yet more ubiquitous during the meeting. After several helpings on strudel, the speakers for the second half of the day tackled more concepts in museology, like reflections on community and audience engagement, shortfalls in conflicts of interest between academics and curators, and what kind of obligations do museums that claim to be “global” in scope have towards source countries of their materials?
The day ended with university collections tours ( Herbarium, Mineralogy, paleontology and anatomical ) all over southern and central Brno, giving us a more in depth acknowledgment to the wealth of information our hosts have to offer.