After thwarted art sales, Baltimore Museum of Art marshalls funding to promote diversity and equity
Stymied in its bid to sell three blue-chip Modern masterworks last fall to help finance its diversity, equity and other goals, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) says it has received three gifts to support such initiatives at the museum.
The museum reports that the philanthropist Eileen Harris Norton has donated $1m to finance diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion (DEAI) efforts. Half of the gift will go towards outlays for those purposes over the next three years, and half will seed the creation of an endowment to ensure that such efforts continue, the BMA says.
The Rouse Company Foundation, which underwrites institutions in the wider Baltimore community, will meanwhile provide $350,000 to extend the museum’s opening hours to 9 p.m. one weekday per week at some point after the museum fully reopens, the BMA says. The institution is currently admitting visitors by appointment only because of Covid-19 safety concerns, with a long waiting list.
The funds will cover costs for evening hours for around 16 months, the museum says, and it plans to continue fundraising to maintain such access in the future.
In a step toward greater salary equity at the museum, the philanthropists Jeffrey A. and Harriet Legum are donating $110,000 to finance wage increases for workers paid by the hour. As a result of the Legums’ donation, the base wages of 50 hourly workers at the museum rose from $13.50 to $15 on 1 February.
The museum’s announcement signals a resolve to cement its financial and philosophical commitment to DEAI efforts after the torpedoing of its plan to raise $65m for equity, inclusion and other initiatives last autumn. Hours before a planned auction in October, the museum called off sales of three important paintings by Andy Warhol, Clyfford Still and Brice Marden that were intended to generate nearly $55m for an endowment that would generate income for collection-related expenses including salaries and $10m for acquisitions of works by more diverse artists. (The Warhol was to be sold privately, and the other two works were to go on the block at Sotheby’s.)
VR Sunil Gohil