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

UMAC 20/20: New Destinations

Looking Forward / Looking Back
The 20th annual University Museums and Collections conference.

Cancellation announcement

The UMAC Board, in close consultation with the UMAC 2020 Local Organising Committee, has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation across the world and within Australia and has decided to cancel the UMAC 2020 conference that was to be held at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, University of Sydney, in September.

The UMAC Board has reluctantly reached this decision in view of current restrictions and uncertainties about when social and economic life and international travel will return to normal in Australia and worldwide.

We hope host some online activities later in 2020, addressing the themes UMAC 2020 intended to cover. Subscribe to our mailing list to stay informed about these activities.

University of Sydney quadrangle and city in background

University of Sydney 

UMAC 2020

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 15-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.

Aerial view of Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour

More about UMAC 2020

  • 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?

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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