Auditors also discovered that the museum didn't fix a leaky roof for roughly 18 months, which allowed water to seep through the art vault's ceiling -- and onto the floor, yards from a Picasso worth approximately
"I think that the audit was one of the more significant audits we've had as far as finding errors," said City Commissioner
While a private non-profit organization, the museum depends heavily on taxpayer funding.
Ingram requested the audit last summer, following a particularly chaotic period for the museum.
Amid the management turmoil, the museum requested an additional
After hearing the museum's request for additional funding, Ingram balked and requested the audit.
Jones completed the audit on
--Ethically questionable behavior by museum board members.
"Former and current professional staff claimed that a board representative 1) asked them to arrange discounts or special prices for art from artists doing business with
Other ethical problems identified by the audit included art donations that weren't properly appraised before the museum accepted them and issued a formal "Letter of Charitable Contribution," which allowed the donor -- a museum employee's spouse -- to claim an income tax deduction.
"They were pretty free and easy about issuing those letters," Ingram said. "And the problem was when an individual donates to the museum art or some kind of service, there has to be a third-party appraisal of the value of that donation."
The audit doesn't identify the museum employees or board members involved.
"Due to the stated several violations, an investigation was conducted and it was determined that these issues were limited to select board representatives acting on their own behalf," according to the museum's formal reply to the auditor's findings. "Subsequently, as the curator became aware of the dealings,
Initial drafts, though, included identifying information about the board member, referencing him by title. The city Audit Committee requested that Jones remove that information from the final report, apparently concerned about the potential for a lawsuit.
"As a matter of fact, that audit report was scrubbed a little bit," said Ingram, who attended several Audit Committee meetings. "Some of the more sharp findings were polished out to protect the museum's reputation. And we did it at their request."
Museum board President
The museum simply can't have it both ways, Ingram said, asking
"They know who it is," Ingram said. "They know what was going on."
Former board member
"I have to laugh. First of all, if you collect art seriously, you don't want any discounting going on because it just undermines the value of your collection," Graham said, adding that the auditor never called him for comment. "I think it's symptomatic of a behavior that exists within the museum, kind of a tattletale culture."
Graham said he resigned afterward, following an unfriendly call from Deutsch.
"I feel I was bullied into resigning from the board," Graham said. "It's something I feel passionate about, you know."
--Meddling by museum board members
Former Executive Director
"The results were dissatisfied board members and city officials, resentful staff and a lack of attention to planning and accountability matters," according to the audit report.
Former board President
"I have the read the city's audit of
Auditors recommended the museum board avoid micromanaging employees and meddling in day-to-day operations. For example, members of the executive committee had requested museum employees copy them on all emails, according to the audit report. Employees also told auditors they were instructed to delete emails during the city audit process.
"The bylaws should carefully articulate this procedure so that future problems with key personnel and city officials can be avoided," according to the audit report.
Interim Executive Director
"Some of the issues were difficult and challenging to resolve because there was a lack of information. There wasn't a who-what-when-where-why during the issues and situations that were brought up," Hughes said, adding that the vague audit report hampered the museum's ability to respond. "So when the audit comes out and says 'Well, staff said emails were deleted.' Ok, well which staff? From who? Was it the board? Was it the past executive director? I mean, let's narrow it down a little bit. And that never showed up in the audit."
Ingram called Hughes' comments disingenuous, considering the museum requested that
"So for Danella to say something like that is speaking out of both sides of her mouth," Ingram said, adding that the museum had every opportunity to contest the auditor's findings during Audit Committee meetings and with formal, written responses incorporated into the audit report.
"What really concerns me the most about that audit? While it was going on, it doesn't appear that they were acting in good faith from the beginning," Ingram said. "Because they were deleting emails while it was going on."
--Problems with the museum's art collection
Auditors visited the museum vault, where they found water dripping from the ceiling. Workers had placed a bucket underneath.
"Collection items close to the leak have been covered with paper and plastic and tape to shield them," according to the audit report.
Hughes said a major hailstorm damaged the museum roof two years ago, and problems with the insurance claim delayed repairs. When The Monitor toured the vault in May, the bucket had vanished.
Auditors also criticized how the museum stored and catalogued art.
"Of the 9,265 permanent collection items, only 38% have an assigned value. The registrar is the only person assigned to maintaining the collection. The storage vault is somewhat disorganized. Prints that have not been framed are stacked on tables," according to the audit report. "Paintings are leaning against one another."
Auditors also questioned how the museum stored a Picasso.
Both Hughes and museum Registrar Aleida Garcia disputed that account, saying they had never stored the Picasso on the bottom shelf. They said the Picasso had always been stored on the top shelf of a two-level wood cabinet, with a few items stacked on top.
Museum board President
"The Picasso was never in any danger, the city just didn't like where it was placed during the audit," Deutsch said.
The museum board reviewed the completed audit on
"And, you know, when I think about it, I'm actually thankful for the Commission and the Audit Committee to bring up such concerns," Hughes said "Because sometimes it takes an authority figure to make some changes."
The city Audit Committee wanted the audit report to provide constructive criticism, said City Commissioner
"The results of the audit were troubling to me, but the response and the attention that we received from the chairman,
While the auditors will follow up with the museum, the board wants to move forward, Deutsch said, and regain public trust.
"They need to understand the museum is fully functional and is running stronger and better than it ever has," Deutsch said, after correcting problems identified during the audit. "And we will make sure things like that never happen again."
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