The Association of University Museums  (SMU) which was officially established in 2014 as a non-governmental organization. Its origins date back to 2012 when the projects and ideas of university museologists, which until then had been but mere conceptions, began to take shape in the form of concrete actions. In the 21st century – which is the most dynamic in terms of the development of world museology – institutions of higher education carry out many initiatives to establish museums. This phenomenon can also be observed in Poland, and in recent years its scope and intensity have resulted in the need to establish a national association of university museums. Today university museums and their collections comprise almost 11% of all museum institutions in Poland. The collaboration between Dr. Hab. Hubert Kowalski of the University of Warsaw Museum and Dr Magdalena Grassmann of the Museum of the History of Medicine and Pharmacy at the Medical University in Białystok and Dr Marek Bukowski of the Medical University in Gdańsk was the first step in this direction. As a result of these talks, the idea of establishing an association began to encompass ever-widening circles. In June 2012 a gathering of representatives of Polish university museums was held for the first time. Museologists from Białystok, Poznań, Kraków, Gdynia, Gdańsk and Warsaw responded to the invitation to attend. The strength of the museum environment is evidenced by the fact that at the start of the Association’s activities it counted twelve museums among its membership, and by the end of 2020 there were 105 members. The analysis carried out to date shows that there are more than 150 museums, collections and paramuseum entities in Polish universities. The mission of the Association (SMU) is to work to preserve the academic heritage and build awareness of the significance of university museums and their collections. The need has also arisen to document the systematic work and passion of university museologists in the form of a publication. The first initiative was taken in 2014; a catalogue was published at that time to accompany a joint exhibition entitled ‘University Museums – Here we are!/That’s us!’ . Its primary objective was to familiarize the staff and students of the institutions of higher education, as well as the general public, who had no connection to the universities, with the phenomenon of university museums and collections. At the same time, an awareness of the situation of Polish university museums appeared at the forum ‘University Museums and Collections (UMAC)’ and the ‘Universeum European Academic Heritage Network’ thanks to talks by representatives of the Association of University Museums. The topic met with considerable interest, which was an incentive to prepare a subsequent, supplemented edition of the catalogue, this time in English.  Its main recipients were participants of the ICOM Congress, which was connected with the UMAC conference in Milan in July 2016. In 2017 The Association of University Museums published Muzea uczelniane. Katalog, the first large publication in Poland, to present academic heritage.  It was co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage under the priority ‘Supporting Museum Activities’ and co-ordinated by the National Institute of Museology and the Protection of Collections. In 2018 Muzea uczelniane. Katalog, gained first place in the category – ‘Museum publications’ in the 12th ‘’Wierzba’ Masovian Museum Events’ competition. The award confirms the need to promote knowledge about Polish university museums and demonstrates that the museums and collections themselves are treasure houses of national heritage. The award-winning catalogue joined the books published under the banner of the Association of University Museums (SMU) (a series of publications was launched in 2016 with Muzea i narody w Europie Środkowej. Przed pierwszą wojną światową – the first Polish language version of an excerpt of a monumental discussion on the history of European museology, the French version of which was prepared by Prof. Krzysztof Pomian). The positive reception of the first Polish publication about university museums, and its dissemination including to many different academic museological institutions, showed the need for further publications. In 2019 the catalogue Muzea uczelniane dla Niepodległej was published.  Here it is worth mentioning that since 2016 the Association has been organizing academic conferences, promoting the heritage of Polish academia and making the university museum milieu a more closely integrated environment. (2016 – Nieborów, 2017 – Kraków, 2018 – Łódź, 2019 – Gdańsk, 2020 – Kielce). In 2022 the Association will be organizing an international conference entitled ‘Academic heritage for the future of science’, which will take place in Warsaw on 26–29 April 2022.
Polish university museums belong to the world’s museological organizations, including ICOM, ICOM UMAC, UNIVERSEUM, COIMBRA GROUP, and the representatives of the Association of University Museums (SMU) ensure the recognition of Polish institutions by participating in international conferences and gatherings.