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ZMD Board Members: St. Louis Art Museum Audit Reveals ‘Well-Run Institution'

Night view of art museum (2008)
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

A draft of an audit of the St. Louis Art Museum has turned up no significant issues at that institution, according to board members of theZoo-Museum District.

Previous audits ordered by the ZMD — for the Science Center and the Missouri History Museum — revealed information that led to shakeups in leadership and changes in governance.

Thomas Campbell
Credit Provided by the Zoo Museum District
Provided by the Zoo Museum District
Thomas Campbell

But ZMD board member Thomas Campbell told St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon that the Art Museum audit appears to raise no red flags.

“The audit indicates what most people had assumed, which is the Art Museum is run in a very professional manner,” Campbell said.

ZMD board member Charles Valier had a similar reaction after an cursory view of the 195-page document.

“There are some minor items which can be improved and for which, hopefully, we will ask for improvement,” Valier said. “But the big picture is that it’s a well-run institution and that the taxpayers are getting value for their money.”

Charles Valier
Credit Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon
Charles Valier

Among its findings, the audit noted that the museum's expansion, completed last year, came in at a final cost of $129.8 million, well under its budgeted $130.5 million.

A previous ZMD-ordered audit of the History Museum raised questions about issues including the purchase of land on Delmar Boulevard and the compensation of then-president Robert Archibald.Archibald's base salary was $375,000 and other benefits increased it by $45,000. After he left the museum in December 2012, Archibald was also owed more than $500,000 in unused vacation pay.

The Art Museum audit reported that museum director Brent Benjamin's compensation package totals $670,000, information that was already known.

Art Museum officials said they will not comment until after a Wednesday meeting scheduled by the ZMD to discuss the audit.

Base Compensation of Zoo-Museum District Institution Heads*

  • Jeffrey Bonner, Saint Louis Zoo: $468,449
  • Brent Benjamin, Saint Louis Art Museum: $406,694
  • Bert Vescolani, Saint Louis Science Center: $275,000
  • Frances Levine, Missouri History Museum: $235,000
  • Peter Wyse Jackson, Missouri Botanical Garden: $232,974

*All gathered from 2012 IRS 990s by the Missouri History Museum, with the exception of Levine's 2013 contract information

St. Louis Art Museum Audit Findings - By The Numbers

Museum expansion cost: $129.9 million (budgeted for $130.5 million)

Director Brent Benjamin's compensation: $670,000

Benjamin’s other perks: $1.27 million in current retirement benefits, St. Louis Club membership

Some missing receipts for travel expenses, one missing IRS I-9 form

A need for two appraisals for the sale of art worth more than $5,000

A need for documentation for purchases exceeding $10,000

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.