Friday, July 2, 2010

On View at The 2009 Financial Statements

by Drew MartinThe Museum of Modern Art has fascinated me for decades. Just as New York City was my first city, MoMA was my first modern art museum. All the art I loved and connected with was there in its collection. I remember the former MoMA well and fortunately, was professionally associated with its expansion. I do not visit MoMA as much as I would like; the last show I went to was the Bauhaus exhibit. Perhaps, one day I will live across the street and take my evening walks through the galleries, but for the meantime I go when I can and check up on the website now and again.

I was particularly looking forward to the end of June because that's when my favorite publication from MoMA is posted: the financial statements...properly called, The Museum of Modern Art Consolidated Financial Statements June 30, 2009 and 2008. I doubt many art lovers anticipate a museum's financial reporting but I find it quite fascinating to see such an organization on paper.

Officially, MoMA is an educational* not-for-profit organization but there is a business side to it behind the Warhol's and Picasso's: they have to keep the lights on and the doors open...not to mention the bathrooms clean and the floors swept.

The financial statements are not summer reading but sometimes might fall under the Mystery genre: under O
perating Revenues and Other Support we see that in 2009 there was over $22 Million generated from admissions (up a million from 2008), $14 Million in memberships, $31 Million from investment income and $51 Million in "Revenue of Auxiliary Activities".

While there was only $275,000 in government support and about $750,000 in circulating exhibition fees, there was almost $10 Million in "Other Grants" and $6 Million for the line that simply reads "Other." Although the $14 Million of Revenues of Membership seems like a nice sum (roughly two thirds of the admissions revenues), if you drop down to Operating Expenses, MoMA claims over $11 Million for Spending for Membership, Development and that $14 Million noted earlier is really olny a $3 Million gain from membership. Focusing on just that line, one could say the memberships fees are spent almost exclusively on the marketing for more members. That might be a bit myopic but the figure does include events (fancy dinners) for membership retention, which is even more suspect than proselytizing.

In 2009, MoMA spent over $33 Million on the Acquisition of Works of Arts, compared to $18 Million in 2008, and spent just under $13 Million for exhibitions. More than twice that amount is for "Curatorial and Related Support Services." No big waves were made for operating expenses over the past two years but there was three times the amount of total-non operating expenses. While that includes money for acquisitions, the real change was a $126 Million hit
compared to $36 Million in 2008 for "Excess of investment loss over amounts designated for operations and specific purposes."

*The Museum is chartered as an educational institution whose collection of modern and contemporary art is made available to its members and the public to encourage an ever-deeper understanding and enjoyment of such art by the diverse local, national, and international audiences that it serves.