Field Guide to Collaboration

Enduring Communities was considered such a model, focusing on such an important national chapter of our history, having powerful educational goals, and involving partnerships with an impressively diverse group of organizations and individuals that would build, grow, and be sustained long past the formal end of the grant.…There’s no doubt in my mind that Enduring Communities will have an enduring, living legacy, as these stories must and should.”
Marsha Semmel, Institute of Museum and Library Services
Opening address at the Japanese American National Museum’s National Conference
Denver, Colorado
July 3–6, 2008

This practical guide to museum collaborations focuses on providing like-minded institutions, educators, and community groups with very specific examples about how to start, engage in, and complete a multilayered collaborative project.

The guide goes beyond being merely an effective way to handle projects where resources, budgets, and staffing are limited—rather, it provides an overall framework and philosophy for institutions and organizations to work together effectively.

The collaborations undertaken by the Japanese American National Museum since its inception in early 1980’s have been grounded in the belief that shared learning and problem solving strengthen the project just as much as they strengthen the individuals, institutions, and communities who are involved.

Building upon the Museum’s history as a nationally recognized leader in the collaborative study and teaching of the Japanese American experience, this guide uses Enduring Communities as a point of entry to provide direct evidence of the transformative experience and impact that the process and programs have had on the partners and the communities involved.


  • Media (DVD, streaming Web videos)
    Modeled after the successful Life Interrupted: Reunion and Remembrance in Arkansas DVD, the Enduring Communities media pieces document the outcomes and impacts that have resulted from the National Museum’s collaboration with the five anchor institutions in five states, the creation of new curricular materials, and a national conference.
  • Guide (Downloadable PDFs)
    The field guide shares the answers to frequently asked questions about the collaborative process. Also included are sample documents used in undertaking several national, multi-year collaborations.