In fiscal year 2009, we at The Baltimore Museum of Art, like every other institution in the country, found ourselves responding to a new economic reality. The year began on a positive note. We had just announced the most ambitious endowment and capital campaign in our history and were preparing to open the first American retrospective of Austrian artist Franz West, an exhibition that we knew would raise the BMA’s profile internationally and bring us critical acclaim. Then the landscape in which we were operating changed dramatically. Our attention shifted quickly from planning for the future to maintaining our services to the region while managing a new set of economic challenges.
We successfully balanced our budget in a difficult year without compromising our mission, thanks to the generosity of our Trustees, Donors, Members, and friends, and by cutting costs with creative thinking at all levels of the Museum.
We started by revisiting the priorities expressed in our vision—elements of the BMA’s program and operations that we felt must be sustained. Because people are the heart of what makes this Museum great, our decision making put people first. We were committed both to maintaining free admission and our current hours, both of which were essential to keeping the BMA accessible to our community.
Some of the cost efficiencies achieved in 2009 grew naturally from the sorts of things we have been doing all along. In recent years, for example, the BMA has been lauded for drawing visitors with inspired presentations of our own outstanding collection, in addition to BMA-organized traveling exhibitions that bring together works in our collection with art on loan from institutions nationally and internationally. This emphasis on showcasing the BMA’s world-renowned collection positions us well to plan exciting exhibitions during lean times. One example from 2009 was the amazing exhibition A Circus Family: Picasso to Léger, which provided a fresh perspective on some familiar works from our collection by juxtaposing them with a dozen great works borrowed from other museums and private collections.
Finally, our Donors and Members provided extraordinary support. We received generous and consistent support in 2009, which allowed us to maintain core programs and services and lay the groundwork for continued work toward ambitious future goals. We ended the year on sound economic footing and with a renewed commitment to our mission. We are continuing to move forward with our long-term plans to make the Museum even better in the years to come.
Thank you for making this possible.
Stiles T. Colwill
Chair, Board of Trustees