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Screenshot of the “Art/Museum Salary Transparency 2019” spreadsheet.
Screenshot of the “Art/Museum Salary Transparency 2019” spreadsheet.

Art Workers Circulate Public Spreadsheet to Promote Salary Transparency, Reveal Pay Gaps

Current and former employees of art institutions are sharing the terms and salaries of their employment in a public Google Spreadsheet titled “Art/Museum Salary Transparency 2019.” The document—whose editors have claimed to hold jobs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Harvard Art Museums—began circulating on Friday morning after its creation by a worker at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA).

Michelle Millar Fisher—an assistant curator of European decorative arts and design at PMA and previously a staffer at MoMA, the Met, and the Guggenheim—created the document and posted it to her Instagram page, where she wrote: “A few years ago, thinking about transparency and the multi-vectored gaps in pay, I started sharing my salaries for each job I’ve had, from nannying to curating, every time I give a career talk. . . . Please contribute if you can.” Fisher told Artnews that she was inspired to make the spreadsheet after writer-curator Kimberly Drew disclosed previous salaries she earned at the Met, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and other institutions. 

Most of the positions mentioned in the spreadsheet are curatorial and education roles, but Fisher said she hopes workers in other departments, such as security, will also get involved. “I hope it encourages a conversation between coworkers,” she told Artnews. “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.”