Trustees Behaving Badly

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Governance runs amok as rich trustees take salaries, snooze at meetings, pay staff for not working, and use art collections as ATMs.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE O ver the years I’ve written about museum governance, which means trustees. Museums are not-for-profits, which doesn’t mean they’re poor. Proper museums own buildings, some bigger than Buckingham Palace. Others, though small like the Menil Collection in Houston, the Gardner in Boston, and the Kimbell in Fort Worth, are exquisite and distinguished works of art in themselves. Most have endowments. The Getty’s is $7 billion, but many museums that need to pinch pennies still have millions under the mattress. And then there’s the art.

Though all is held in the public trust, a museum’s board effectively owns the place, the cash, and

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