CALL FOR PAPERS - XVII Universeum Meeting 9 - 11 June 2016

University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University, The Netherlands, 9-11 June 2016

Connecting Collections

Call for Papers

The European Academic Heritage Network UNIVERSEUM announces its 17th Annual Meeting. UNIVERSEUM is concerned with academic heritage in its broadest sense, including university collections, museums, archives, libraries, botanical gardens, astronomical observatories, and university buildings of historical, artistic and scientific significance.

We invite you to submit papers to one of the sessions below. Papers in the thematic sessions 1, 2 and 3 need to present an argument that can be discussed. Descriptive presentations can be submitted to the poster session (session 4).


A. Connecting Collections - general call Oral 15-min papers followed by 5 min discussion In our times, the ways of using university collections are constantly changing. It is a challenge to stimulate and increase use for contemporary research, education, representation and display. It is also a challenge to use collections across different disciplines (e.g.
natural history collections used in humanities and social sciences, scientific instruments and illustrations used in history of design or social history, etc). Why is this so difficult and which new angles should we be considering?

B. Connecting the collections with research and education Oral 15-min papers followed by 5 min discussion In the last few years we have seen an increased demand by university boards to demonstrate the use of collections as resources for research and education. Many university collections that originated and then dissociated from teaching and research are now re-connected to education and scientific investigation. Did the collections find their way back into the labs and the curriculum? How do new ways of object based learning and research give new meanings to collections?

2. THEMATIC IN-DEPTH SPECIAL SESSION on Connecting library, archival and museum collections Oral 5-min papers (max. 6), followed by in-depth debate.
Often, divisions within the university collections are constructed:
objects with objects, books with books, documents with documents. What are the benefits of (re)connecting them? And what about collections that contain books and objects as well as archival documents? Also there are so called “documentary collections” such as photography, lantern slides, film and catalogues. These are somewhat overlooked within the academic heritage sector, while these collections contain a wealth of information. In this session we want to discuss how by (re)connecting these types of collections, they can be of better use for teaching, research and for presentation to a wider audience.

3. THEMATIC IN-DEPTH SPECIAL SESSION on Connecting the collections to the public Oral 5-min papers (max. 6), followed by in-depth debate.
How do you connect collections with the general public? Around 2010, museum director Nina Simone coined the phrase “the participatory Museum” – as a way of reconnecting with audiences. Scientific collections have always been generated by experts outside of the public domain. Our challenge is to use these collections in different contexts, in different eras, for different purposes and different audiences. What role do we give ‘the general public’ (if there is such a thing as ‘the general public’) in our activities? Are they merely consumers of our products or do they have a stake in developing new meaning and uses?

In the poster session, we invite presentations of scientific programs, technical issues of and around collections such as storage, preservation and documentation, as well as descriptions of museums, collections and other heritage. Presentations of cultural projects and questions related to the promotion of university heritage are also welcome.

The conference language is English. Postgraduate students are encouraged to present. The abstract template is available at

Abstracts for session 1, 2 & 3 need to include: i) introduction/problematic/context, ii) main arguments/methods, iii) results or discussion. Abstracts for posters can be more descriptive.
The identification of questions and issues for broad in-depth debate are most welcome.

Please send abstract proposals (max. 200 words), with an indication of the session you are submitting, plus a short biographical note highlighting main research interests and/or field of professional experience (max. 50 words) to the following email address before 28 February 2016:

Esther Boeles: shows the preliminary program.
Accommodation details and registration will be available by the end of January.

Program Committee:
Steph Scholten, University of Amsterdam (Chair, NL) Marike van Roon, University of Amsterdam (NL) Esther Boeles, University of Amsterdam (NL) Paul Voogt, Utrecht University (NL) Paul Lambers, Utrecht University (NL) Reina de Raat, Utrecht University (NL) Marta Lourenço, University of Lisbon (Portugal) Sébastien Soubiran, University of Strasbourg (France) Sofia Talas, University of Padua (Italy) Bruno Vila, University of Aix-Marseille (France) Roland Wittje, Indian Institute of Technology Madras (India)

Roland Wittje
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Indian Institute of Technology Madras Chennai 600 036 India
Phone: +91-7358517637