Blog / Endowments Fall, Museums Slash Budgets –


Thought I would take a minute to post this recent article Artnet News, which talks a little about how the financial crisis is affecting the budgets of some major national museums.  Challenging times for development staff, to be sure!



-By Walter Robinson

The Art Newspaper speculates that Metropolitan Museum of Art’s endowment may have lost as much as a quarter of a billion dollars in value in the recent market turmoil. The Met’s endowment was $2.9 billion in June 2008, before the worst of the financial turbulence struck. (It might also be noted that the Picower Foundation, which gave $15,000 to the Met in 2007, has been wiped out in Madoff affair.) So how does the U.S.’s premiere institution for fine art respond? Nothing specific has yet been announced, though an article on new Met director Thomas Campbell in the Economist gives at least one concrete change: “fewer expensive loan shows will free up financial and creative resources for innovative displays of works from the permanent collection.”

A sampling of U.S. institutions by the Art Newspaper found that most had lost at least 20 percent of the value of their endowments. Though such losses are felt only incrementally, most are bracing for the worst. Some of the more concrete steps that have been announced to plug the holes so far: New York’s Guggenheim Museum has slashed 10 percent of its operating budget (in addition to a plunging endowment, the Gugg also has been the beneficiary of the Frank Lautenberg Foundation, also slammed by Madoff); the Denver Art Museum plans a 15 budget trim; the Detroit Institute of Arts is cutting its budget by a punishing 20 percent; MassMoCA in North Adams, Mass. is cutting by 8 percent, with some staff firings in the pipeline; and finally, the Las Vegas Art Museum is cutting its budget by a staggering 50 percent, with the museum board demanding wide-ranging layoffs — a move which caused director Libby Lumpkin to resign at the end of 2008.

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