Filed under: Art
After this year's big business meltdown many people are questioning how much CEOs of publicly owned businesses should be allowed to earn, a concern that has been around for a long time in the nonprofit world. Those who defend the high salaries say that the high-pressure job of being a museum director is worth the price and that the right director is key for attracting the big givers who donate both money and their prized collections to museums. But for museum staffers who often have advanced degrees and yet earn low salaries this can sometimes be hard to take. To Lowry's credit, he has balanced the museum's budget every year since he became director in 1995 and the museum has expanded its exhibit space and increased attendance. The Museum has also not had to lay off any employees yet.
All across the country museum boards are starting to look at salaries of directors. Like CEOs, museum directors have to satisfy a board of directors who want to see results. But instead of profits, museum success is measured in a variety of ways: success of fundraising, museum attendance and landing the big art donations are just a few of the criteria. There is no doubt that it is a challenging job. But after the rough year that nonprofits have experienced it seems unlikely that many directors will continue to receive seven figure salaries.