Art museum replaces gallery guards with students

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The Indianapolis Museum of Art fired 56 of its gallery attendants Monday morning and will replace them with 100 IUPUI students on a federal work-study program.

In addition, IMA will employ 14 reserve police officers to patrol its campus, including 100 Acres, the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, which opened this summer.

The wholesale change in security staffing, which IMA executives believe will save $600,000 a year, has been in the works for months. Spokeswoman Katie Zarich said the new program is designed to address three key concerns: car break-ins on the parking lot, security for the recently expanded campus, and escalating expenses.

“Our staff has recognized that with increased public participation in 100 Acres ... we needed to update our security model from the previous one-size-fits-all approach,” CEO Maxwell L. Anderson said in a prepared statement. “With the opening of the park, the IMA’s campus is unlike any other museum campus in the country, thus it required us to review our security program anew.”

Zarich added that many museums around the country are struggling with security costs. The new security model was developed by Chief Operating Officer Nick Cameron, who joined the museum last year from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Making the security program more efficient was the first task Anderson asked him to accomplish, she said.

The security revamp will help the museum meet its $21.2 million budget for the year ending June 30, 2011, down from $21.8 million last year.

IMA has cut about $7 million out of its annual budgets since the 2008 financial crisis cut into its endowment, which provides more than 60 percent of operating funds. The endowment was worth about $301 million in July.

The 33 full-time and 23 part-time gallery attendants who lost their jobs Monday morning earned an average of $11.50 per hour. The IUPUI students will earn $10 per hour, but under the federal work-study program, the IMA will cover just 25 percent of their pay.

The IMA is retaining a handful of gallery attendants, Zarich said, because the new student "visitor assistants" can work only a maximum of four hours per shift, under the federal rules. The museum staff also anticipates turnover and a constant need for training. The students receive training in security protocol and customer service.

The museum also is retaining a number of security personnel who will work in surveillance and monitoring.

One point of controversy among museum staff members is the introduction of armed police officers. Zarich said other institutions in town, including the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, use reserve officers. The IMA's leadership feels it's a necessary step to prevent crime and have a more immediate response when incidents do occur, she said. The museum has reported more than 40 break-ins on its parking lot this year, she said.


  • i hope
    It is awful that the IMA board will not act on this. Shame on you.
  • I hope
    I am sure that the leadership at the IMA is relieved that there is no place left for comments on one IBJ article and the activity on this one has died down, but we have said what we have to say. Remember there were about 150 comments posted by employees, volunteers and patrons since the IBJ published these articles, and that is a good indication that something is really wrong at the IMA. Sure, Board, you can sweep it under the rug once again, but I promise you that your leadership is seen as pompous, callous and indifferent to this community.
  • Has happened before
    Dear IMA Board,

    If you do a little research you will see that your man has done all this before. He starts out sweeping everyone off their feet, but then his arrogant, self-serving, fiscally irresponsible ways become evident. Why do you think he couldn't get a museum job for three years after the Whitney?

    Don't you get it yet?
  • for good reporting
    Dear IBJ:

    Thank you for the excellent reporting on the IMA and for providing a forum for the beaten down employees (present and former). Sadly, we have not had a place to air our grievances, and you can see that we've had plenty. Would you please restore the comments so that the public can know what is really going on at the IMA? It's shameful that this wonderful institution has such poor leadership.

  • Where are the comments?
    Did Max finally succeed in getting the comments removed from the follow up article?
  • 2 things
    Here's a little blog post concerning these events:

    And is it just my browser or did the comments on the follow up article vanish?
  • Really?
    So Max is in New York this week talking to students at his high school? Would someone please explain to me how that helps the IMA? To be sure he is mia most of the the time, but is this really what the board thinks he should be doing? Really? http://www.collegiateschool.org/podium
  • Director's Endowment
    It is more than likely that the generous 10 Mil gift from the Simons is only partially in the bank. Normally such gifts are given over a number of years so if more than 25% of the gift is in the bank I would be surprised. Max is big on transparency so call and ask.
  • Save what?
    I don't understand where the money was saved. It's only being put on the taxpayer to make up the difference.
  • Narcissism at the Big House
    It is truly a sad time in the history of the IMA. It is clear that the vision at the top is to build a résumé and NOT to serve the community. Can someone please explain how a trip to Venice for the Biennale helps anyone in Indianapolis? Likewise the firing of 56 loyal and dedicated employees represents how one man heartlessly has destroyed what had just become an institution that cared about the very people who need it's help the most. It is a dark day for all who adore the IMA. Furthermore, is there anyone who can tell me why it's necessary to shoot or to kill anyone at the IMA, anyway? I think Anderson has a lesson to learn: live within an organizations means and STOP gravy training community dollars that could otherwise make a greater impact.
  • I'm Ignorant
    I'm ignorant when it comes to how money is used at the IMA. But I'm really tired of hearing about how certain funds are reserved for certain reasons. Such as the argument that Max Anderson's pay is an endowment that is not to be used as part of the operating fund. I think if you want to make changes. If you want to save/preserve the IMA, then you re-write the way you spend your money. Why can't the IMA tap into the money set aside for marketing, pay for the CEO, development, art loans, etc.. to cover the operating fund? I think the answer is GREED. It looks really good on Max's resume to have an admission free museum, but someone is paying the price: the people who have been laid off over the past 3 years. The Art and Nature Park is a 'white elephant.'
    Thanks for letting people know clifford this is wonderful news, IUPUI is doing the right thing and indeed very fast Bravo!!
    IUPUI notified students on Wednesday that the museum is no longer an approved agency for community work-study. The university should be commended for taking such swift action.
  • wow
    I doubt that the annual savings would even cover Anderson and Cameron's compensation for one year. I think I'll request a copy of the IMA's 990 tax return and check out the compensation of the senior staff
  • Bad cops
    Yep, the cops park their cruiser under a big shade tree and prevent property crimes in the parking lot while sculpture is vandalized on the grounds. And who exactly is guarding the galleries now that the security staff has cleaned out their lockers? The ghost of Ruth Lilly?
  • Nick Cameron
    One more comment I would like to make concerns the Chief Operating Officer Nick Cameron. The amount of good people who have been forced out since Mr Cameron's arrival is sadly huge, he has cut everywhere and the only criteria for staying was that you did not rock the boat. Some of the few supervisors they kept in the security department were some of the worst employees the museum has, but they are very good at doing what they are told and not making waves, it doesn't matter if the art is protected or that customers are helped, it only matters that on paper the museum can claim to be making postitive changes. Nick Cameron and Max Anderson are ruining the IMA, and the slogan of IMA "It's My Art" is very true when the "My" is referring to Max and Nick
  • For Katie Z
    This comment is in response to Katie Z the public relations director. I worked at the museum for 9 years and got out before all this happened, all the museum is doing is getting more money for Modern Art projects and probably more money for Max to through at his hose which the IMA pays for, How about the staff pay freeze but everyone in Admin the museum director likes simply got new titles so they would get pay raises, and you were quick to show how much money the museum was going to save with students, how much do 14 ex-police cost? I'll bet quite a bit more than anyone at the museum was making. The IMA is all about being a club for a handful or rich in this city it always has been and under Max Anderson it has gotten ten times worse.
  • Not a pretty picture
    Excuse me, but what are officials at IUPUI thinking? Work-study employees cannot be used to replace existing ones. These students are getting a very ugly lesson in a pretty workplace. IUPUI needs to end this abuse before further damage is done to their reputation for community service.
    • Glad Im not in their shoes
      Their shoes, how embarrassing.
    • Glad Im not in there shoes
      I was a guard for 3 years. Luckily a year ago I was promoted into another area. Imagine, if I were still in Security Department today, I would be a 33year old with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art, without a job or insurance, decreed useless to the IMA. Could it be that the Senior Ranking "Officials" at the IMA wish it to be less secure? They promised us no more layoffs!?!
    • Car stolen under cop's watch
      IndyEMT: I believe that car was stolen AFTER the cops came onto the scene.
    • Seriously
      I completely agree with Quirk. What museum in their right mind would consider loaning their priceless art to a museum guarded by part-time college students who have no vested interest in the organization?
    • Talk About a Brain Drain
      No offense to the college students, but these guards possessed years -- YEARS -- worth of experience that is irreplaceable. What a shortsighted decision on the part of IMA administration. Pity.
    • Museum loans
      I work in the public affairs department at the IMA. I wanted to respond to the comment regarding loans from other museums. All the visitor attendants have been trained in proper security protocols, and various museum professionals have vetted this program to ensure that it meets museum professional standards.
      • Well Done
        As an avid patron, I would like to point out the IMA is completely free to the public and are doing what they can to keep it that way. This not just increases the security staff force, it also allows 100 college students the opportunity to work in an educationally stimulating environment. I do feel sorrow for the former employees who lost their jobs in the midst of this, however, I implore the museum for doing what needed to be done.
      • Part-time Student Security???
        Is the Museum AMA accredited? I don't think part-time student security is acceptable for a Museum of this caliber. I would not recommend this Museum for any collection loans under these circumstances. Items are stolen from cars when the vehicle is unlocked or when items of value are visible. When the owners of the vehicles value their property as much as the person who wants to steal it does, the thefts will decrease significantly.
      • Let's just be clear
        The Federal Work-Study Program is an established fund. You've already paid for it, whether it is utilized by the IMA or by a university library system, or by a professor hiring a research assistant.
      • Let's make it clear
        Ricardo, FishersMom, jim and Doug have pointed out a couple of important considerations that, in my opinion, makes this Not an acceptable solution. A majority of the costs for the students will be borne by the public because the work study program is paid by the public. Also, the professional security staff provides a function that the studens can not possibly provide. This is not about student workers participating in work study programs, it is about the IMA providing a secure, informed staff to the public. Yes, as jim said, penny-wise and pound foolish never works. Remember when you were young and you traded something good for a short term gain? How did that work out?
      • Not all is bad
        With the hiring of the police officers there have been no car break ins, they even had a car stolen one day. Since the police started working there none of that has happend. What they dont say is they also just hired two EMTs, so it is much safer place to be. Yes it is sad that they are gone, but with the times we are in, it was bound to happen
        • Taxpayers get screwed
          So in the end taxpayers get the shaft since they now get to foot the bill for 75% of the wage costs incurred by the new IUPUI students in the work-study program.

          The museum should operate within its own means and not rely upon taxpayers to foot the bill.

          • Manager
            The stability of a museum is dependent on great facilities, stable work forces and the protection and safety of collections. The security staff serve as one of those foundations that work at building relations with visitors, existing and future donors who contribute to the financial success of a great institution. Students are a great resource but not a permanent solution for replacing staff. IMA will discover that student scheduling will be challenging because their primary committment is to their education not the museum. I hope the money they save doesn't compromise their priceless collection.
          • Sad
            I agree with FishersMom - - I have often stopped to chat with a guard during my visits and have always found them to be enthusiastic ambassadors for the collection. This will be missed!
          • Misguided
            This sounds to me like IMA being penny-wise and pound foolish. Replacing knowledgeable security staff with part-time students? Does this really make sense? I don't think so.
          • Anderson
            Anderson's pay comes from an endowment made specifically for his pay. It does not come out of the operating fund.
          • Wow
            Many of the security staff were great and very friendly. I will miss them. I'm really feeling bad for them today, not that it helps them in any way.

            Arts organizations, with the exception of Carmel's extravagance, are really having a tough time these days. (But then again, if Carmel's politicians weren't using taxpayer's money, they would have been done a long time ago.)
          • Art without soul
            One of the key tenets of the IMA used to be community, and this included employment as a priority. No more. These cuts might even pay for Anderson and Cameron for a couple of years. Even more if they took a pay cut.
            • Sad
              As a former IMA employee and long-time patron, I am deeply saddened to see the loss of long-time security staff. These people know the collections very well and have a much greater depth of knowledge than temporary fill-ins. I understand the need to cut costs but I'm sure there are other places where reductions could be made.
            • No Problem ACE
              ..simply hire the best one as your personal guide....do your part....here's your chance..
            • wow
              Its great to see the IMA is now run like a bigtime corp. Hopefully, they will outsource all of the security jobs to third world countries soon and save even more money. Just install some web cameras next to the million dollar Van Gough. That will do.

              I am sure gonna miss diuscussing art with the security staff. They were very knowlwdgeable and priceless in my opinion.

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