Universeum has grown into a potentially important organisation for the revival of European university museums. The annual meetings (the 12th was held in Padua last summer) could get an important role for raising the awareness among university administrations that their museums are not only worth preserving but, even better, worth expanding.

I write “could get”, because — although I very much enjoyed some of the first Universeum meetings in the early 2000s because of their informality and opportunity they gave to really discuss things — I have been pretty critical of the way later meetings, especially the meetings in Uppsala in 2010 and in Padua were planned: the programmes were terribly packed, with one damn 15-20 minutes presentation (including comments) after the other, with short and inevitably rushed coffee breaks, etc.

The organisers of next year’s meeting (in Trondheim 14-16 June) seem to have learned from some of the former mistakes. Instead of an open call for anything university museum oriented, they invite to three kinds of sessions and workshops (Academic Heritage and Public Engagement, Central Museums / Central Storage Versus Dispersed Collections, and Recent Scientific Heritage), they encourage topics that have not been presented at earlier meetings, and they especially encourage graduate students to present.

Presentations are still limited to 20 minutes, including 5 minutes for discussion, but hopefully they will not put too many papers into the mill this time. And the workshop format bodes well for intellectual exchange.

So send < 200 word abstracts to  before 31 January 2012 (use the abstract template at the conference website www.ntnu.edu/universeum2012). Also include a short biography highlighting main research interests (no more than 50 words).

Proposals will be reviewed by the the 2012 Programme Committee (i.e., Thomas Brandt, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Marta Lourenço, University of Lisbon; Sofia Talas, University of Padua; and Roland Wittje, University of Regensburg, chair). The lucky speakers will be given notice by 1 March 2012.

More info here: www.ntnu.edu/universeum2012.

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