Money, money, money

Stucco2_10-15Do you ever wonder how the History Museum pays for all the wonderful exhibits we have? Or its knowledgeable staff? Or that fabulous lecture? The answer is … well, it’s complicated.

Under this year’s budget, the state of New Mexico provided about $2.8 million for operating costs, including salaries, utilities, and supplies. Last year’s Legislature provided an additional $680,000 for capital improvements, which includes the ongoing Palace renovation. (That’s museum Director Andrew Wulf on the right, talking with Elmo Griego of Longhorn Construction, which is overseeing the Palace stucco project.)

The Museum of New Mexico Foundation will raise another $550,000 or so this year for exhibits and programs—although that sum is a moving target, given two new major exhibits opening in May. The museum also enjoys generous support from Los Compadres, who members have repeatedly stepped up to raise money for all manner of special projects. Foundation and museum staff also collaborates to apply for grants that produce even more money, usually for public programs like lectures and symposia.

Exhibit costs can run in the neighborhood of $250,000, including design, installation, shipping of artifacts, collections purchases, graphics and add-ons like TV screens and computer interactives.

Most of the operating money that the state provides, about 85 percent, comes from gross receipts and compensating taxes, selective sales taxes, income taxes, and interest earnings from the land grant and severance tax permanent funds, plus balances held by the state treasurer. We also get money through ticket sales and by renting out our spaces—money that’s pooled with other Department of Cultural Affairs properties to jointly benefit all of the state’s museums.

This year’s 30-day legislative session is focused primarily on determining which needs throughout the state should get how much money—a long and sometimes fractious process important to all state agencies. The History Museum’s main focus this year is to work toward continued funding for the Palace renovation, an endeavor that will be helped by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“We’re hoping to continue funding the next $500,000 phase of the Palace improvements, including fire safety and mechanical and electrical upgrades,” Director Andrew Wulf said. “The National Trust is once again supporting us in reaching our $1.5 million goal, of which we already received $480,000 that’s going toward stucco and plaster upgrades.”