Transforming Education: Conversations About the Past, Present and Future of University Museums
When the University of Michigan was first imagined in 1817, its founders envisioned museums as essential to the ambitious educational system they sought to create. The University’s first museum opened to the public in 1841, the same year the first class of students arrived in Ann Arbor. Today, ten U-M museums and multiple galleries house vast collections, host numerous exhibits, and engage thousands of students in their classrooms, labs, and public spaces.
While the University of Michigan is exceptional in the richness and diversity of its museums, it is not unique. Museums exist in many universities and colleges in the United States and around the world. While some universities view their museums as treasures and key to their educational and research missions, in others, the role, status, and value of university museums has been challenged. Controversies have arisen as universities have sought to close museums, sell valuable artworks, or discard research collections that no longer fit institutional priorities.
In the University’s bicentennial year, this series invites leaders from several U-M museums to engage in conversations with museum leaders from peer institutions. Our speakers will review the history of their institutions, discuss current initiatives and priorities, and explore their visions for the roles and contributions of museums in the university of the future.