CFP: For Love or Money: The State of Museum Salaries (Publication)

Posted: Sunday, 09 December 2018

Museums Etc invite international submissions for the forthcoming book, For Love or Money: The State of Museum Salaries, to be published in 2019. The closing date for proposals is 17 December 2018.

The museum profession suffers from systemic under-compensation and pay inequality. This book will examine both the causes of this situation and its resulting effect on staff, institutions, and the profession. It will also propose strategies for remedying the problem. It will identify internal and external factors that suppress wages, consider the impact of the present practices and paradigms on the field as a whole, articulate the benefits that fair and equitable compensation would achieve, and develop solutions to address wage inequity with the goal of strengthening our institutions, allowing committed museum staff to advance in careers that are financially and personally rewarding.

Many museum professionals feel under-appreciated, some to the point of leaving for positions outside of museums. The employers, led ultimately by museum boards or local government entities, are faced with the challenge of balancing a budget and, as a solution, often relegate staff salaries and salary increases to the lowest priority. The result is a field in which salaries for highly qualified people remain low, staff size is as lean as it can be to sustain basic services, and employees are asked to do more for less, leading to high rates of staff turnover and impairment of the ability to realise important goals of diversity.

Staff departures and turnover cost museums in productivity, quality and morale. Yet the prioritisation of investment in the museum visitor, by way of quality museum programs and capital projects, is rarely questioned. But what if, in this environment of low salaries and high staff turnover, the quality of the museum experience was at risk, causing a downward spiral in attendance and revenue? The benefits of employee longevity, loyalty, and productivity are lost, and the goal of diversity becomes harder to achieve.

This publication will consist of essays that explore these issues more deeply by bringing together research, analysis, case studies, commentary, and advocacy from a range of perspectives.


To aggregate current thinking on under-compensation and inequitable compensation, looking at causes, effects, implications, and strategies to address the condition.
To do so on an individual level, an institutional level, and profession-wide.

We welcome international proposals for (larger) chapters, (briefer) case studies, and thought pieces from museum, gallery and heritage professionals, academics, researchers, opinion leaders, and advocates. Aspects of interest include - but are not limited to - the following:

The influence on salary levels of:
- Supply in excess of demand
- Unpaid interns and volunteers
- Museum studies programs
- Proliferation of part-time positions and outsourced and contracted services
- Museum sacrifice measure
- Salary surveys
- The view of museums as "pink-collar" workplaces
- Under-employment in the gig-economy

The effects of under-compensation - and the benefits of more generous salaries - on individuals, institutions, and as a field, including such possible topics as:
- Lifestyle issues
- Morale
- Diversity
- Longevity/turnover/retention
- Quality of programming

Strategies to address under-compensation by individuals looking for employment or negotiating salary, etc.
Strategies to address under-compensation within an institution
Strategies to address under-compensation profession-wide
Analysis of - and strategies for dealing with - inequities, including race, gender, and class.
Effects and value/harm of salary surveys
Issues relating to the use of docents and volunteers
The use/misuse of fringe benefits as substitutes for pay
Legislative solutions
Hiring and promotion practices, including job postings
Role of professional associations and museum service organisations
Living Wage initiatives
Relationship between compensation and the "values" of museum community
Unions and collective bargaining
The impact of the expectations and assumptions of funding sources
Succession planning
Strategies for funding higher compensation levels
Strategies for negotiating higher compensation during the hiring process or after
Strategies for - and experiences of - museums seeking to address inequities with limited fiscal resources
Case studies involving museums that developed and/or implemented plans to address under-compensation or compensation inequity

Essays are welcome from the perspective of employees or professionals in the field, as well as employers, management, or governing bodies. While the focus of the volume will be on museums, proposals may address concepts and topics that have broader applicability.

We particularly welcome submissions based on practical experience (successful or otherwise) of initiatives and plans to address salary and wage inequality issues.

Click here for further information and details of the proposal process.