A Close Look at the Guggenheim’s Finances

Between the Smithsonian fighting off forcing patrons to pay for tickets to its museums and San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum facing bankruptcy (a problem it’s still working through), we’ve been talking a lot lately about how times are still tough for museums. Now the NY Times has put together this brief, interesting look at the Guggenheim Foundation‘s tax filings, showing just how awful 2008 was for them (“the museum’s net assets declined by 25 percent”), how things picked up a bit in 2009, but with cuts and layoffs, still weren’t great, and how the cultural organization is hoping for a better 2010. This year has been filled with lots of high-profile partnerships and fun press, but how much of that translates into money-in-the-bank, that’s for next year’s tax forms to reveal. It’s also a good look at what it’s been paying its still-new-ish director, Richard Armstrong, who pocketed a salary of more than $600,000 last year. Here’s a bit:

The latest tax filings show that 2009 was not nearly as bad, though the numbers still offer cause for concern. Despite a round of layoffs (completed midyear), expenses exceeded revenue by more than $12 million. Contributions were down from the previous year, to $20 million. The foundation’s endowment decreased slightly, to $62.5 million from $64.4 million.