University Collections (Editorial)

Duty, Privilege and Commitment

In Pôle muséal et culturel
Jean Winand, First Vice-Rector, President of the Museum and cultural Center

After several months of preparation, and despite the uncertainties and difficulties that have plagued our daily lives for almost two years, the University of Liège's Cultural and Museum Centre is finally coming into being. By bringing together the museum spaces, scientific collections and knowledge mediation structures of the University of Liège, the Centre materialises the commitment of our Institution towards society and future generations.

Resulting from two centuries of research and teaching, sometimes benefiting from legacies or acquisitions, the University collections are major witnesses to the scientific process and the various ways of questioning reality over time. As a historical and emblematic place for the production and animation of knowledge, it is the University's duty to preserve, in the long term, the traces, sources and works that allow these different forms of knowledge to be constructed, experienced and shared. The University of Liège's collections, from all fields and from the four corners of the globe, are exceptional. Taking care of them and showcasing them is both an imperative and a privilege.

Using the pieces in the collections, the Cultural and Museum Centre aims to show and understand the complex process of developing scientific knowledge. Showing how science lives and is constructed is a necessity to respond to the growing public mistrust, accompanied by the spread of opinions, beliefs and fake news. It is not a question of putting science in opposition to any other form of knowledge, but of showing its specificities and, de facto, its validity - even if it is temporary or partial. Science, but also art, insofar as they are practices of questioning, doubt and invention, contribute their share to our understanding of the world and to the major challenges facing society. In this respect, of course, each collection in isolation does useful work in its own field. However, it is the coming together of various actors working in synergy, in a common dynamic, that considerably broadens the field of possibilities. The Centre uses the the strength of the collective against the disciplinary or sectoral. We can already measure the beneficial effects of this: a convergence of perspectives, sharing of experiences, mixing of audiences and diversification of questions. We are convinced that this is only the beginning.

Although the Centre does not (yet) have a physical building, it is nonetheless a space for reflection and sharing. By bringing together ULiège's museum and cultural players as well as the managers of the University collections, the Centre meets several objectives, which are all societal issues, and which can be summarised in a nutshell: to reintegrate the University - and, with it, the sciences and the values that it embodies - into the heart of the City.

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