How the richest museums have fared in the past year
By Javier Pes and Helen Stoilas. Museums, Issue 210, February 2010
Published online: 28 January 2010
The Art Institute of Chicago is looking forward to a rise in its endowment of 12% from last year, when it suffered a loss of nearly 24%, bringing it to $618m at the end of June 2009.
The Cleveland Museum of Art’s board has voted to move forward with its expansion project, although its 2010 operating budget is down 7.5% to $29.5m and its endowment dipped to $606m in 2009.
The Getty Trust’s year-end endowment figures were unavailable, but following the 25% cut to the budget last year and a staff reduction, president James Wood is “cautiously optimistic about 2010, but we will be prudent as we craft our 2011 budget”.
The Metropolitan Museum says in its annual report that due to its five-year averaged spending policy, “the impact of [the market collapse] was not felt in 2009, nor will it be an important factor in the upcoming year”, despite a 26% drop in its endowment to a low of $1.86bn in June 2009.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s endowment stood at $466m last month, a 14% rise from the end of the 2009 fiscal year, although its operating budget for this year is expected to be less “due to cost containment measures”.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is estimating a budget decrease of $2m, despite a 13% boost to its endowment bringing it to $856m, but it says this is just due to changes in programming.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York’s endowment dropped from $818m to $669m in June 2009. Unlike many other institutions, it was able to avoid staff cuts, opting instead for a pay freeze and reduced benefits. Director Glenn Lowry, who took a pay cut last year, has said his goal is to maintain programming and staffing.
The National Gallery of Art receives most of its funding from the government, and with an increase of $2.5m in appropriations this year, its operating budget is up to $136m. Its investments in 2009 continued to fall though, to $584m from $609m in 2008.
The Smithsonian Institution received a federal appropriation of $761.4m for 2010, up 4% from 2009, which accounts for 70% of its $1bn operating budget, on top of an extra $25m in 2009, for building repairs.
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