Enlightenment values led to the formation of varied collections at European and American colleges and universities between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries. During the nineteenth century, general collections were divided and new ones formed conforming to emergent academic disciplines. Their focus on categorization, observation, and description did not survive unchallenged during the twentieth century: university and college museums became increasingly irrelevant to scholarly enquiry.

Yet paradigms of enquiry continue to change, and tangible things are once again loci of innovative scholarly attention. Many new uses of university and college collections involve lowering the barriers that separate them, and the encouragement of connections among them in the light of new, transdiciplinary scholarship. What is to be done? This is a question that several universities and colleges in North America and Europe are addressing in various ways. This symposium examines some recent and emerging developments, and provides a forum for discussing possible future uses of university and college museums.

Stefanie Rüther
Deputy Director of the Central Administration of the Collections, Museums, and Gardens, Georg-August University, Göttingen

David Gaimster
Professor, and Director of the Hunterian, University of Glasgow

Selma Holo
Professor of Art History, and Director of the Fisher Museum of Art, and of the International Museum Institute for Advanced Studies and Practice, University of Southern California

Jane Pickering
Executive Director of the Museums of Science and Culture, Harvard University

Carol Snow
Deputy Chief Conservator and Senior Conservator of Objects, Center for Conservation and Preservation, Yale University

Nicholas Thomas
Professor of Historical Anthropology, and Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge

Giovanna Vitelli
Director of the University Engagement Programme, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford

Respondent Nina Stritzler-Levine
Gallery Director, Bard Graduate Center

Convened by Ivan Gaskell
Professor, Curator and Head of the Focus Gallery Project, Bard Graduate Center

Made possible in part through a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and financial support from The Antioch Review.