The Indian Arts Research Center’s Guidelines for Collaboration

By Brian D. Vallo, Director- Indian Arts Research Center at School for Advanced Research

The Indian Arts Research Center (IARC) is a division of the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The goal of IARC is to bridge the divide between creativity and scholarship by supporting initiatives and projects in Native American studies, art history, and creative expression that illuminate the intersections of the social sciences, humanities, and arts.

The IARC recently released guidelines to ensure successful museum and community collaborations. There are two sets of guidelines: 1) Community + Museum Collaboration and 2) Museum + Community Collaboration.

These guidelines were developed over a three-year period of collaboration between Native and non-Native museum professionals, cultural leaders and artists. The Community + Museum Collaboration guidelines are intended as a resource for community members who are working in collaboration with museums. The Museum + Community Collaboration guidelines are a resource for museums that are looking to collaborate with a source community. This is not a set of rules; instead, it offers ideas to consider when working with museums and source communities.

This project began with the desire to set the record straight. Source communities can work with museums to correct and add to the museum record. According to Jim Enote, A:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center, “The idea of bringing source communities together with collections is the right thing to do. The idea of building collaborations between communities and museums and their collections was a new level of engagement. And this was part of the essence of building our guidelines for communities to work with collections.” This work is relevant for communities because they can learn more about their identity and heritage through museum collections.

These guidelines were created with the belief that museums should be thinking about how to bring life to objects by allowing them to return or reenage with their source. The guidelines create a platform that offers museums and communities an opportunity to negotiate the best approach to achieve true collaboration.

The Guidelines for Collaboration are an excellent resource for communities that want to work with museums and museums that want to work with communities. These resources provide an opportunity for true collaboration and two-way learning. 

To learn more about this innovative project, download the guidelines, and view case studies visit the Guidelines for Collaboration website


Photo Credit: School for Advanced Research 



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