Baltimore, MD—The Walters Art Museum announced today that it will be increasing the hourly wages and salaries for all employees, following a thorough compensation analysis that included national museum salary data for benchmarking. As part of this analysis, the Walters determined that salaries should target the national median salary for each comparable position, as reflected in the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) 2021 salary survey, which included consideration of museums with larger operating budgets in higher cost-of-living areas. The study underscored the importance of the museum’s commitment to raising hourly wages, which will be increased to $17 per hour for all full-time, part-time, and internship positions. Across the institution, the average increase in compensation is 13%. Increases will go into effect with the January 2, 2023 pay period.
“Competitive compensation is important for multiple reasons, including for our ability to attract and retain staff across the whole institution,” said Julia Marciari-Alexander, Andrea B. and John H. Laporte Director. “This summer we launched a compensation study, drawing on data from the museum field nationally. The result was three separate but interconnected decisions, resulting in an average increase to compensation of 13% across the museum. First, we are raising our hourly wage to a new starting level of $17 for all hourly employees. Second, salaried positions will be adjusted to ensure they meet the national median salary for their role. And third, a commitment on the part of the Walters leadership, with the support of our Board of Trustees, to regularly reevaluate our compensation, so that we are keeping pace with changes in the museum field and remain competitive as an employer.”
The museum’s new compensation study, which examined national trends in salaries for the museum’s many different positions, was a collaborative project between Tiarra Chance, Human Resources Director, and Michelle RhodesBrown, Director of Finance. The 2021 AAMD Salary Survey (the most recent survey then available) includes information for a wide array of roles within art museums, including the largest art museums in high cost of living areas, making it both the most useful data set for this study and a data set that is very favorable to Walters employees.
In evaluating how to benchmark salaries at the Walters, Chance and RhodesBrown determined that using the national median salary number would be the best standard. Selecting the median number, rather than the mean (average), eliminated fluctuations caused by outliers with extremely high or low numbers. The study also looked at hourly wages across the field, and at the Walters’ own recent history; in January 2021, the museum raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour. While AAMD’s 2021 Salary Survey shows a median hourly wage of $14.57 nationally, the Walters’ study led to the conclusion that both the museum and its employees would benefit by again raising hourly wages, this time to $17 per hour. The museum’s new hourly rate is 33% higher than the City of Baltimore’s current minimum living wage of $12.74 per hour (as of July 1, 2022).
“This study, and the resulting increases in the museum’s salaries and hourly wages, demonstrates the commitment of Walters’ leadership to competitive compensation and to taking action when action is needed,” said Tiarra Chance, the museum’s Human Resources Director. “Conducting a compensation study was a priority for me when I joined the Walters in May, and I am pleased we have been able to complete this process and plan for a rapid roll-out of these increases, which will benefit our employees and the museum as a whole.”
Michelle RhodesBrown, the museum’s Director of Finance, added, “Another essential part of this process was evaluating the impact that these increases would have on the museum’s budget over the next few years. This is clearly a major investment in the museum’s staff, for which we will also need to raise additional funds. But while it is common for organizations to say that their staff are their most important asset, our planned increases demonstrate our commitment to that principle, and we are planning accordingly.”
Additionally, this process has resulted in changes for future hiring and promotions. The museum will post salary ranges or hourly rates for all positions, ensuring that applicants understand before applying what their compensation might be. At the same time, going forward Walters employees who are promoted internally will have their compensation adjusted according to the specific salary range for their new position.
“I want to thank Tiarra Chance and Michelle RhodesBrown for their thoughtful and detailed analysis,” said Marciari-Alexander. “I also want to thank our many donors past and present, whose support makes these increases possible, through their contributions to our operations each year and by contributing to our endowment, an essential source of ongoing funding for the museum. Gifts from donors ensure that we are able to make this investment in our employees, which in turn benefits our community and our audiences.”
About The Walters Art Museum
The Walters Art Museum is a cultural hub in the heart of Baltimore, located in the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. The museum’s collection spans more than seven millennia, from 5000 BCE to the 21st century, and encompasses 36,000 objects from around the world. Walking through the museum’s historic buildings, visitors encounter a stunning panorama of thousands of years of art, from romantic 19th-century images of French gardens to mesmerizing Ethiopian icons, richly illuminated Qur’ans and Gospel books, ancient Roman sarcophagi, and serene images of the Buddha. Since its founding, the Walters’ mission has been to bring art and people together to create a place where people of every background can be touched by art. As part of this commitment, admission to the museum and special exhibitions is always free.
Free admission to the Walters Art Museum is made possible by the combined generosity of individual members, friends and benefactors, foundations, corporations, and grants from the City of Baltimore, Maryland State Arts Council, Citizens of Baltimore County, and Howard County Government and Howard County Arts Council.