The spreadsheet bringing transparency to the art-world employment market

Data from some of the United States’ largest museums features in the Google spreadsheet circulated this morning, which offers a space for museum staff to anonymously share their annual salaries.


By filling in this form, over 650 users so far have added to “Art/Museum Salary Transparency 2019” by contributing details of their pay, start/end dates and employment terms.


The spreadsheet already contains data from current and former employees of institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MoMA, the Harvard Art Museums, the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in another sign of the increasing demand for transparency in the art employment market.


The highest salary currently listed is $330,000 for the MoMA’s Chief Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books, one of eight staff members from the museum who have listed a six-figure annual pay packet. The lowest, beside that of (mostly unpaid) interns, is $5,000 for an editorial assistant working three months part-time at an artist’s studio.


Beyond contractual details including promotions, etc., users can also supply information regarding their gender, ethnicity, qualifications and whether they took parental leave. Furthermore, the spreadsheet has now expanded beyond the US, welcoming international entries from Canada and the UK, for example. The accuracy of the data cannot be guaranteed, however, as contributors supply the information anonymously, sharing only as much information as they like.


The spreadsheet’s creator, Michelle Millar Fisher, who reportedly “made it in three minutes in the car”, has previously worked for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the MoMA, the Met, and the Guggenheim. She told Artnews: “I hope it encourages a conversation between co-workers. If you don’t do it, everything stays the same. Sometimes it takes just one tiny action. Solidarity is the only way to affect great change.” Whilst many of those who have thus far shared their salaries work in curatorial or directorial roles, Fisher said she hopes the spreadsheet will also reach other departments such as those working as guards or security workers.