For Love or Money: The State of Museum Salaries

Nov 18 | 0 comments

We invite international submissions for our forthcoming book, For Love or Money: The State of Museum Salaries, which we'll be publishing next year (2019). You can download the full Call for Papers HERE. The closing date for proposals is 17 DECEMBER 2018.

The museum profession suffers from systemic under-compensation and pay inequality. This book will examine both the causes of this situation and its resulting effect on staff, institutions, and the profession. It will also propose strategies for remedying the problem. It will identify internal and external factors that suppress wages, consider the impact of the present practices and paradigms on the field as a whole, articulate the benefits that fair and equitable compensation would achieve, and develop solutions to address wage inequity with the goal of strengthening our institutions, allowing committed museum staff to advance in careers that are financially and personally rewarding. 

Many museum professionals feel under-appreciated, some to the point of leaving for positions outside of museums. The employers, led ultimately by museum boards or local government entities, are faced with the challenge of balancing a budget and, as a solution, often relegate staff salaries and salary increases to the lowest priority. The result is a field in which salaries for highly qualified people remain low, staff size is as lean as it can be to sustain basic services, and employees are asked to do more for less, leading to high rates of staff turnover and impairment of the ability to realise important goals of diversity.

Staff departures and turnover cost museums in productivity, quality and morale. Yet the prioritisation of investment in the museum visitor, by way of quality museum programs and capital projects, is rarely questioned. But what if, in this environment of low salaries and high staff turnover, the quality of the museum experience was at risk, causing a downward spiral in attendance and revenue? The benefits of employee longevity, loyalty, and productivity are lost, and the goal of diversity becomes harder to achieve. 

This publication will consist of essays that explore these issues more deeply by bringing together research, analysis, case studies, commentary, and advocacy from a range of perspectives.


  1. To aggregate current thinking on under-compensation and inequitable compensation, looking at causes, effects, implications, and strategies to address the condition.
  2. To do so on an individual level, an institutional level, and profession-wide.  

        We welcome international proposals for (larger) chapters, (briefer) case studies, and thought pieces from museum, gallery and heritage professionals, academics, researchers, opinion leaders, and advocates. Aspects of interest include – but are not limited to – the following:

        1. The influence on salary levels of:
          -  Supply in excess of demand
          -  Unpaid interns and volunteers
          -  Museum studies programs
          -  Proliferation of part-time positions and outsourced  and contracted services
          -  Museum sacrifice measure
          -  Salary surveys
          -  The view of museums as “pink-collar” workplaces
          -  Under-employment in the gig-economy
        2. The effects of under-compensation - and the benefits of more generous salaries - on individuals, institutions, and as a field, including such possible topics as:
          -  Lifestyle issues
          -  Morale
          -  Diversity
          -  Longevity/turnover/retention
          -  Quality of programming
        3. Strategies to address under-compensation by individuals looking for employment or negotiating salary, etc.
        4. Strategies to address under-compensation within an institution
        5. Strategies to address under-compensation profession-wide
        6. Analysis of – and strategies for dealing with – inequities, including race, gender, and class.
        7. Effects and value/harm of salary surveys
        8. Issues relating to the use of docents and volunteers
        9. The use/misuse of fringe benefits as substitutes for pay
        10. Legislative solutions
        11. Hiring and promotion practices, including job postings
        12. Role of professional associations and museum service organisations
        13. Living Wage initiatives
        14. Relationship between compensation and the “values” of museum community
        15. Unions and collective bargaining
        16. The impact of the expectations and assumptions of funding sources 
        17. Succession planning
        18. Strategies for funding higher compensation levels
        19. Strategies for negotiating higher compensation during the hiring process or after
        20. Strategies for – and experiences of – museums seeking to address inequities with limited fiscal resources
        21. Case studies involving museums that developed and/or implemented plans to address under-compensation or compensation inequity 

        Essays are welcome from the perspective of employees or professionals in the field, as well as employers, management, or governing bodies. While the focus of the volume will be on museums, proposals may address concepts and topics that have broader applicability.

        We particularly welcome submissions based on practical experience (successful or otherwise) of initiatives and plans to address salary and wage inequality issues.  

        Dawn A. Salerno is Executive Director of the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA, and President of New England Museum Association. She previously served as Deputy Director for Public Engagement and Operations and Acting Director at Mystic Museum of Art in Connecticut. Dawn has been a grant reviewer for the Institute of Museum and Library Services and for Connecticut Humanities and served on the board of the latter until 2018. Since 2009, she has been a member of the Board of Directors of New England Museum Association. She earned her Master’s degree in Museum Education Leadership at Bank Street College and her BA in Classical Studies and Religion at Boston University and completed the Getty Leadership Institute in 2017.  

        Mark S. Gold is a partner in the law firm of Smith Green & Gold, LLP, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA. He holds a Masters in Museum Studies from Harvard University, degrees in Economics and International Studies from The American University, and a law degree from Georgetown University. His practice includes business and corporate law, venture capital and traditional financing, and nonprofit and museum law. He has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including New England Museum Association.   Mark has undertaken considerable research on deaccessioning, legal issues for museums, nonprofit governance, and museum compensation issues, has participated in panels at meetings of AAM and regional associations and has authored numerous articles and essays on those topics.

        Kristina Durocher is the director and curator of the Museum of Art of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, USA. Previously, she was assistant curator then curator of collections at the Fitchburg Art Museum, 2004–2011. She has more than 15 years of exhibition planning, serving as a juror and guest-curator for numerous exhibitions throughout New England. Kristina is a proven leader committed to service and a strong advocate for giving back to the museum profession and arts community and encourages others to become involved. She serves on the board of directors of the New England Museum Association and is the New England Regional Representative for the Association of Academic Museum and Galleries. She holds an MA in Art History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a BFA. from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston. She completed the Getty Leadership Institute in 2017.

        If you are interested in being considered as a contributor, please submit a proposal and a short biography (in Microsoft Word format). Proposals should be 500-700 words in length and biographies 100-300 words.  Please be sure to include a working title for your proposed chapter.  

        You can propose to submit a chapter, a case study, or a thought or advocacy piece. Chapters will be 4000-6000 words in length. Case studies will be 1000-2000 words. Thought or advocacy pieces will be 1000-3000 words.  The inclusion of images is encouraged. Please prepare your proposal with these parameters in mind. The work should not have been published elsewhere.  All contributions must be submitted in English - translation services will not be provided.  

        The deadline for proposals is 17 December 2018. Please email your proposal to both the editors [] and the publishers []. Any queries in advance of submission should be sent to the editors.

        For Love or Money: The State of Museum Salaries will be published by MuseumsEtc in print and digital editions. Contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the publication and a discount on more.

        KEY DATES
        PROPOSALS DUE:  17 DECEMBER 2018

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