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The grand front entrance to the museum, with a single small tree in the entranceway.

UMAC 20/20: New Destinations

15 - 17 September 2020, Sydney Australia
The University of Sydney’s new Chau Chak Wing Museum will host the 20th annual University Museums and Collections conference- New Destinations: Looking Forward / Looking Back.

The University of Sydney is Australia’s first university and home to the new, state-of-the-art Chau Chak Wing Museum. This museum is the result of a 10-year strategy to unite the university’s artistic, cultural, scientific, natural history and archaeological collections. UMAC 2020 brings delegates to Sydney in spring, just weeks after the Chau Chak Wing Museum opens, to explore the conference theme of ‘New Destinations: Looking Forward / Looking Back’

As the operating environment of higher education is changing, museums and collections can play a significant role in helping to shape an institution’s identity and narrative. They are an opportunity for diverse audiences to engage with history, academic thought and contemporary ideas while performing as a theatre space for innovative research and practice. UMAC 2020 examines the relationships between museums and collections and their institutional hosts, their relationship with the tripartite missions of teaching, research and engagement and their relevance to global issues in both higher education and broader society.

University of Sydney quadrangle and city in background

University of Sydney 

Call for Papers

Internationally, universities are using their museums and collections innovatively to create new forms of student, research and community engagement. The utility of collections for research training, object-based learning and cross-disciplinary programs is being increasingly explored and exploited in higher education. ‘New Destinations’ poses the question: ‘Are we there yet?’

The International Committee for UMAC invites proposals for its 20th Annual Conference. The theme of the conference is ‘New Destinations: Looking Forward, Looking Back. We are interested in receiving proposals that address the themes listed below. 

Proposal submissions are due Friday 28 February.

Aerial view of Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour

Important dates

Deadline for Submission
Friday 28 February 2020

Notification of Acceptance
Friday 27 March 2020

15-17 September 2020

More about UMAC 2020

  1. Access the application form
  2. Submit 50 words of biographical notes per author
  3. Select your presentation type and theme
  4. Submit a 300 word presentation abstract
  5. Submit form by Friday 28 February
  • 20 minute paper presentation
  • 10 minute paper presentation
  • 5 minute rapid fire presentation
  • A poster accompanied by a short talk
  • Do museums and collections now represent the institutional DNA of a university?
  • Are university museums and collections now the central drivers of cultural production in higher education?
  • Do university leaders consider museums and collections to be core university business?
  • Is museum and collection work in higher education an emerging professional specialism?
  • Are university staff who work with material collections now recognised as an integral part of the global professional museum community?
  • How are ethnographic collections relevant to the generation of new knowledge, evolving institutional agendas and Indigenous community expectations?

    The University of Sydney has substantial and highly significant Indigenous ethnographic collections. Much was acquired during a former time when Australia was on the margin of a European empire. As a special subtheme of this conference, we consider possible new destinations for this category of university collection. Can the university museum lead the way in imagining and configuring new destinations for these collections?

Registrations will open mid-Feburary 2020. Tickets will include an early bird price and a discounted student rate.

UMAC 2020 will include a pre-conference masterclass and a post-conference tour of significant Sydney arts institutions. Delegates will also be able to join a cohort travelling to Melbourne for an arts tour after the conference.

More information will be available soon.

University Museums and Collections (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. 

For all UMAC 2020 enquiries please email

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