Lessons Learned: California Networks for Collaboration

Lessons Learned: California Networks for Collaboration

Lessons Learned: California Networks for Collaboration  

It is a great pleasure to announce to you that the California Association of Museums (CAM) and 13 statewide partner organizations recently concluded a three-year pilot project, titled the California Networks for Collaboration (CNfC). The CNfC project involved over 400 museum professionals and cultural sector colleagues who generously provided their time and expertise to pilot a network and system for facilitating professional learning communities across California. (For an overview of the project, click through to the CAM website, here.) Study groups – or what we called Learning Collaboratives – offered a “blended” learning experience (i.e. both online and in-person) in which participants both learned and shared best practices for deepening museum engagement, accessibility, and audience research practices.

I invite you to join me in celebrating our successes and explore the lessons learned!

You can learn more about the participants’ key recommendations for deepening museum engagement, accessibility, and audience research. At of the conclusion of the six-month program, each regional Learning Collaborative group documented their most salient findings in what we refer to as “knowledge products.” Each knowledge product is a distinct document that relays key takeaways and practical applications for each topic studied. All vary in format and delivery, or both. Together, the knowledge products provide insight into the museum field’s practices for audience research, engagement strategies, and accessibility. (A list and short description of all knowledge products along with embedded hyperlinks for download are all available at the CAM website, here.)

If you are interested in learning more about this project—and our “lessons learned”, you can download, read, and share CAM’s final report, Networked & Collaborative: Convening California Museum Professionals in Pilot Learning Communities. While this final report delves into the background and framework of the greater CNfC project, it also highlights a number of the key lessons learned in implementing our ambitious model. We learned a lot about how to nurture collaborative learning communities across a vast geographic region particularly in areas concerning the needs of rural and urban communities, the time-commitment it takes in truly collaborative endeavors, and how to foster collaboration in meetings. 

Whether you work at a small historic site in the Sierra Nevada mountain range or direct statewide initiatives for collective impact from a major metropolis, I am confident that you will find some of the lessons we learned in implementing the CNfC Learning Collaboratives relevant to your practice. Please visit the CAM website for more details at www.calmuseums.org/CNfC or contact Emily Todd, CAM’s Administrative Coordinator (admin@calmuseums.org), with further inquiries.


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, grant number MG-10-14-0010-14, and with the generous support of all CNfC partner organizations.