New UGent museum to show the human side of science


GUM, opening next year, will show off the university’s huge collection of scientific heritage and give a realistic glimpse of modern scientific practice

Quest for knowledge

Ghent University is opening a new museum that will display its scientific collection, to show the visitor that “science is the result of falling and getting up again, doubt and imagination”. The museum, to be known as GUM, will open in March next year, coinciding with the opening of a major Van Eyck exhibition in the city’s fine arts museum.

The museum will offer insights into the university’s unique collections, taking in subjects such as biology, ethnography, medicine and psychology. “We want to demonstrate all aspects of science to a wide audience and show people what it’s all about: tantalising propositions, facts, questions and experiments,” UGent rector Rik Van de Walle said.

The GUM will be a museum-sized translation of the university’s motto, ‘dare to think’

- Director Marjan Dooms

The university is home to the largest collection of academic heritage in Flanders, including Leo, the whale skeleton that was recently exhibited in the city’s Sint-Baaf’s cathedral (pictured). The idea behind GUM is to further strengthen the dialogue between art, science and society, Van de Walle said.

Visitors will have the chance to see objects including a vascular cast of a horse’s eye and a craniometer, a device used to measure a patient’s skull. They will also learn about how researchers think and what challenges they face.

“The GUM will be a museum-sized translation of the university’s motto, ‘dare to think’, a science museum that places a special emphasis on the quest for knowledge,” said director Marjan Dooms. “It will not be a one-sided ode to scientific success stories, nor a shrine dedicated to a selection of brilliant minds. It will, however, provide visitors with a realistic account of scientific practice with all of its human pitfalls, told by an academic community that embraces scientific thinking. Science will be depicted as a creative, ever-evolving and pluralist concept.”

The museum will be housed in the city’s botanical gardens, part of the Ledeganck campus, and is due to open on 21 March 2020.

Photo: Lisa Bradshaw

Ghent University

Ghent University (UGent) is one of Flanders’ most pluralistic and liberal institutions of higher education, and its motto has long been “dare to think”. UGent is renowned for its research in bio and life sciences.
Latin - UGent was originally founded as a Latin-speaking state university by the Dutch king William I.
Nobel - Corneel Heymans, the only Fleming to have won a Nobel Prize, studied at the university.
Autonomy - UGent is the largest employer in East Flanders.

million euros in annual revenue

1 882

first female student admitted

1 930

Dutch becomes university’s official language