In Sunday’s Museums Special section of the Boston Globe, Worcester Art Museum director Matthias Waschek was asked whether museums should be free to the public. In his response, he said that “a museum that gets public money is free. The MFA doesn’t get a dime. Nor do we, of public money.” Blogger Greg Cook took issue with that, as did the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Today Waschek issued a clarification and apology.
“I intended to put the issue in the context of museums in Europe, where recurring unrestricted public funding is counted on as part of the institutional budget each year,” he said in the statement. “Massachusetts is investing generously in WAM: in the past two years, the Massachusetts Cultural Council alone supported us with $405,900 both in restricted and unrestricted funds. On a national level, [Institute of Museums and Library Services] invested in the same time period $123,679 in restricted funds.”
“This is of tremendous help for an annual budget of $9,000,000, and yet... For cultural institutions like us to fulfill our potential as an economic and social force in the community, more needs to be done at the state and federal levels. Every dollar directed towards culture is an investment in our future. Free access to culture for the general public is an ideal and something for all of us to work towards with the appropriate financial support.”