The Metropolitan Museum of Art, America’s largest art museum, is under fire for paying truckloads of cash in salaries and bonuses to its executives despite a long history of budget deficits.
The examples have been called shocking by some. According to the New York Post, they include:
* $670,066 paid in 2016 to its president, Daniel Weiss, in addition to a housing allowance that upped his overall compensation package to $901,671, according to the museum’s tax filing.
* A bonus of $470,313 bonus for senior vice president and chief investment officer Suzanne Brenner, part of $1.3 million in compensation, according to the records obtained by The Post.
* $1.2 million in total compensation, including a whopping $424,589 bonus, for chief investment officer Lauren Meserve.
According to the Post, the museum – which accepts taxpayer support from New York City – has been “grappling with a financial crisis for several years. It lost $10.1 million in the year ending June 30, 2017, up from $8.3 million the previous year, according to the Met’s annual report.”
Money worries got so bad in 2016 that 34 staffers were reportedly laid off, in addition to at least 50 employee buyouts. The museum also enacted several cost-cutting measures, such as postponing a planned show on Versailles. Just last week, it started insisting that visitors from outside of New York, New Jersey or Connecticut pay the full $25 admission price.
A longtime must-see attraction for worldwide tourists who decide to visit the Big Apple, the Met, which is operated out of three sprawling sites —The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters – presents more than 5,000 years of art from around the world.
Founded on April 13, 1870, its goal from the outset has been “encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction.”
Last month, the museum’s celebrated Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer exhibit closed after having attracted 702,516 visitors during its three-month run, making it among the Museum’s most visited exhibitions of all time. The exhibition ranks as the 10th most popular exhibition ever held at The Met in its 148-year history, as well as the most visited drawings exhibition ever organized by the museum.
It was just over a year ago that the New York Times posed the question, Is the Met Museum ‘a Great Institution in Decline’? An accompanying story by Robin Pogrebin noted, “Even as crowds poured into shows on Hellenistic kingdoms and high-tech fashion, the Met’s deficit was approaching $40 million and had forced the buyout or layoff of some 90 employees. An expansion into a satellite building cost millions of dollars more than expected. A new Met logo and marketing plan were rolled out at great expense — and greeted with ridicule.”