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Unpacked: The collections of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Author(s): Marion Maria Ruisinger

Journal: University Museums and Collections Journal
ISSN 2071-7229

Volume: 1;
Start page: 61;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

The Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU), Germany, holds about 17 scientific collections. Some of them have been established only recently, others date back to the very foundation of the university in 1743 or even have their roots in the Kunst- und Wunderkammern of the Margraves of Ansbach and Bayreuth. The collections differ not only with regard to their history, but also concerning their size, accessibility and presentation and the extent to which they are utilised for academic teaching and research. // In spite of these differences, the collections show common characteristics as well: First, they all contain three-dimensional objects which have an immense potential for the communication of science and for the representation of the university to the public. Second, the objects are all subject to fairly similar problems regarding the basic museological tasks of collecting, preserving, researching on and presenting them. // Given these shared needs and opportunities, the curators of the collections organised themselves into a working group about three years ago. As a first step, information material (leaflet, set of postcards) was published and an information platform ( was established. In the summer term 2007, with the support of the university's administration, the working group mounted a campaign to inform the general public about the widely unknown treasures of the university’s collections. This campaign used different ways and means to achieve its aim. // This paper presents the central event of this campaign, the exhibition “Unpacked: The collections of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg”. The project faced the problem of putting 17 collections on the scene without creating an "omnium gatherum". The paper focuses, therefore, on the concept of the exhibition. And it poses the final question "What to do next?" One answer could be the formation of a nationwide "task force on university collections" for the discussion of common problems and possible solutions.
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