Strategy for the Collections and Archives of the ETH

The management of the ETH Zurich has adopted a new “Collections and Archives Strategy 2021 to 2024”. This marked the completion of a project lasting more than one year, which was supported by CHE Consult in cooperation with foresight company Z_punkt. The project was commissioned by the Vice President for Infrastructure Prof. Dr. Ulrich Weidmann, who has now also been tasked with implement the strategy by the Executive Board of the ETH Zurich .

At the conclusion of the project, Prof. Dr. Weidmann stated: “The strategy that has been developed provides a guiding framework for action for the coming years and aims at enabling the Collections and Archives department to make a significant contribution to the success of the university as a whole. The support provided by CHE Consult and Z_punkt helped us to involve various actors and stakeholders in a consensus-oriented and participatory manner. Through a target-oriented working process in practicable formats, forward-looking solutions supported by everyone involved were created”.

During the project, CHE Consult’s main tasks includedthe planning and management of the project,stakeholder management, moderation of various project groups, the conducting of extensive (online) surveys and providing advice on governance and outreach issues.

The Collections and Archives department of the ETH Zurich includes around 20 institutions that own Swiss cultural assets and valuable research data. The department constitutes a part of ETH Zurich’s basic mission to maintain, secure and ensure public access to these internationally significant and unique materials. The spectrum of items in its care include natural science and art history collections, archives and cultural-historical collections, as well as the literary estates of Thomas Mann and Max Frisch. The departmentalso hosts exhibition facilities as places of  art education for the public and dialogue between scientific research and society.

The new strategy of the department is based on the values and strategic development plans of the ETH Zurich. Based on the vision and mission of the ETH Zurich, the project formulated strategic principles for seven thematic areas, ranging from research, teaching and dialogue with the public to the development of the collections, the protection of cultural assets, as well as cross-sectional issues such as digital change and the topic of organisation and cooperation. Points of action have been identified for each principle, which are to be implemented by means of measures that were developed in the strategy process.

In addition, measures were prioritised in each field of action and recommended for implementation in the form of projects. The focus is on promoting dialogue with the public and intensifying cooperation with the Departments of Research and Teaching.

Principal Consultant Julia Klingemann emphasizes the high level of cooperation among those involved in the project: “The trust placed in us external consultants by the management and staff of the Department of Collections and Archives was just as motivating as their commitment to their own individual concerns and the common goals of the ETH Zurich as a whole”.