A year ago, with forecasters predicting another Great Depression, museum directors were slashing operating budgets as the value of endowments fell by at least 15%. The results: cancelled exhibitions, redundancy notices and pay freezes for those who survived (a few directors voluntarily cut their own salaries). Even the wealthiest museum was affected. The J. Paul Getty Trust was forced to make a 24% cut in employees, as the value of its endowment shrank to $4.4bn in June 2009, from $5.9bn a year before, a fall of 25%.On the other hand, 1) having $4.4 billion at all seems like rather a lot compared to the amounts much smaller institutions have on hand, and 2) when the stock market recovers, those endowments and institutions seem to have an easier time recovering. Again, it's good news, but please don't forget the difficulties of smaller museums, where laying off staff and cutting programs can have a bigger impact, proportionately.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Economic Recovery for Art Museums
Not that the Art Newspaper isn't correct in that things are starting to look up, a bit, for art museums, but the focus on 25 leading institutions means a focus on 25 of the wealthier institutions in the country. The size of their various endowments means that a percentage drop means a bigger number on which to focus, as in this opening paragraph: