Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: The Museum Year 2009


Report of the Budget and Finance Committee: July 2008–June 2009

Fiscal year 2009 was unprecedented in recent financial history, globally, nationally, and locally. All sectors of the economy were affected, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was no exception.

While we were pleased to see overall attendance achieve approximately one million visitors, we saw pressure on virtually all revenue lines of the Museum and School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Management worked quickly to mitigate the revenue declines through prudent cost containment without an impact on visitor and student experiences, but nonetheless, we had to draw from reserves to achieve surplus this year. By doing so, the Museum achieved an operating surplus of $358,000, the SMFA had a surplus of $9,000 and Retail had a deficit of $282,000, resulting in a combined Museum corporation surplus of $85,000.

Notwithstanding the challenges presented by the current climate to the budgeting process for fiscal year 2010, I am pleased to report that Management’s cost-containment efforts helped make a 2010 budgeted surplus achievable. That budget was adopted by the Board of Trustees at its May meeting.

The endowment declined approximately 21% in fiscal year 2009, a performance slightly better than that of its peers in one of the worst equity markets, in terms of performance, in decades. The value of the endowment declined from $538 million on July 1, 2008, to $409 million on June 30, 2009.

In addition to dealing with the financial impacts of the current economic environment, the Museum’s staff continues to be highly focused on the completion of the Building Project and the Art of the Americas Wing construction project. The reinstallation of more than 50 galleries is on schedule and the project tracks on budget.

As always, we have our eye on the longer term, and we will continue to analyze the implications of the endowment decline amongst other financial and operating realities. The Trustees and Management have entered into a strategic planning process to facilitate this assessment and plan for the future. As we do this, we are buoyed by the great strengths of this Museum: its collection, supporters, governance and staff.

Respectfully submitted,

Richard K. Lubin
Treasurer and Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee