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February 10, 2023

How the Metropolitan Museum of Art Spends Revenue (2021)

by Anne Paddock

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (“Met”) is the largest art museum in the US with more than 2 million works of art curated over 17 departments and displayed at 2 locations in New York:  The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters that collectively report more than 1 million visitors a year

A tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) (3), the Met is governed by 50 voting members (trustees) of the governing body, 48 of whom are independent, although 52 trustees are listed on the most recent Form 990 (2020 for the year ending June 30, 2021) which appears to be due to timing differences.  34 of the 52 (65%) of the trustees are male while 18 of the 52 (35%) are female.

In 2021, the Met reported total revenue of $536 million (compared to $415 million in 2020) most of which came from 3 sources:  investment income and gains ($334 million), contributions, gifts, and grants ($175 million including $6 million from the government), and membership dues ($19 million).

Expenses in 2021 totaled $321 million (not including $48 million in depreciation) categorized as follows:

  • $195 million (36% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $ 36 million (7% of revenue):  Art Purchases
  • $ 31 million (6% of revenue):  Fees for Services
  • $ 25 million (5% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $ 14 million (3% of revenue):  Interest
  • $  9 million (2% of revenue):  Repairs and Maintenance
  • $  6 million (1% of revenue):  Advertising and Promotion
  • $  3 million (0.5% of revenue):  Grants
  • $  2 million (0.5% of revenue):  Other Expenses

The largest expense is compensation: 2,194 employees received $196 million in compensation which equates to an average compensation of nearly $90,000 each.  The most highly compensated employee was Lauren A Meserve, the SVP and Chief Investment Officer who received $1.7 million in compensation.

Using the above information, every $100 in revenue was spent as follows:

$100:  Revenue

-$36:  Compensation

-$  7:  Art Purchases

-$  6:  Fees for Services

-$  5:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  3:  Interest

-$  2:  Repairs and Maintenance

-$  1:  Advertising and Promotion

-$  1:  Grants and Other Expenses

-$ 61:  Total Expenses

 $ 39:  Unspent Revenue:  To General Fund

As illustrated above, the Met spent $61 out of every $100 in revenue in 2021.  Because the Met spent significantly less than they received, they added nearly $200 million to the general fund.  In addition, nearly $900 million in unrealized gains on investments allowed the net assets to increase from $3.7 billion at the beginning of the year to $4.8 billion at year-end:  a huge increase in a one-year period.

In summary, the Met takes in about $500 million annually but only spends about $300 million, primarily on staff. Because they have saved and invested wisely, the Met has nearly $5 billion in net assets.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2020 for the year ending June 30, 2021), click here.

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