Now Reading
NYC Wage Transparency Legislation Exposes Artwork World’s Lowest Wages

NYC Wage Transparency Legislation Exposes Artwork World’s Lowest Wages

NYC Salary Transparency Law Exposes Art World's Lowest Wages

Gustave Courbet’s “Stone Breakers” holding museum protest indicators (edit Valentina Di Liscia/Hyperallergic)

On November 1, New York Metropolis’s wage transparency legislation went into impact, lastly illuminating the murky realm of compensation throughout industries. Workplaces with 4 or extra workers should now disclose pay of their job postings “in good religion,” and present listings present that almost all employers look like complying, even within the notoriously opaque artwork world.

In some circumstances, the brand new legislation has served to reveal simply how meager some salaries within the cultural sectors stay. As museum workforces throughout the nation proceed to unionize, a well-liked rallying cry has emerged amongst staff: “You may’t eat status.” Hyperallergic took a deep dive into NYC’s artwork job postings, and it seems that some employers are nonetheless asking their staff to just do that.

Under are a couple of of essentially the most egregious postings we noticed at galleries, museums, and public sale homes, many requiring superior levels and providing salaries far beneath New York Metropolis’s residing wage.

Rhea Nayyar contributed reporting.

Whitney Museum of American Artwork

On the Whitney in Manhattan’s dear Chelsea neighborhood, a posting for a safety officer affords $19.89 an hour and requires a minimum of two years of expertise. A customer and member assistant function is listed at $17 an hour and asks for a 12 months of customer-facing work expertise.

Wages for such roles on the Whitney and elsewhere elevate questions in regards to the feasibility of working in Manhattan, the place rents reached a file excessive this 12 months. The typical one-bedroom condominium in Manhattan is priced at $4,278, however even a studio is $3,145. It appears like these staff might want to stay deep in one other borough, with a handful of roommates and a doubtlessly lengthy commute.

Brooklyn Museum

On the Brooklyn Museum, the place staff are negotiating their first contract after unionizing in January, a growth assistant — a job tasked with supporting the museum’s multimillion-dollar fundraising efforts — will make solely $45,000 a 12 months, coming in additional than $7,000 wanting New York Metropolis’s residing wage of $52,873 for an individual with out kids, as calculated by the Massachusetts Institute of Expertise.

Gagosian Gallery

Entrance Desk Affiliate | Bachelor’s and/or Grasp’s diploma, one 12 months of expertise | $23 an hour

Exterior of the museum world, a entrance desk affiliate at Gagosian Gallery mustn’t solely have a minimum of a Bachelor’s diploma in artwork historical past, however also can anticipate to make solely $45,000 a 12 months. Good luck paying again these pupil loans.

Sperone Westwater

Gross sales Assistant | Bachelor’s diploma | $50,000–75,000 a 12 months

Some firms are “complying” with the brand new wage transparency legislation by posting compensation within the type of absurd ranges — Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, for instance, discovered media roles with pay ranges of almost $100,000. At Sperone Westwater, a up to date artwork gallery in SoHo, a gross sales assistant can anticipate to make someplace between $50,000 and $75,000 — a 50% soar that takes the worker from beneath the residing wage to considerably above it.

The Shed

Visible Arts Handler | Bachelor’s diploma or 3 years of expertise | No wage posted

Candidates for the arts handler job on the Shed, the multidisciplinary heart in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, is not going to solely apply with out realizing the place’s wage, however might want to recommend their very own compensation vary. As of November 10, the place description on the establishment’s web site suggested candidates to “present wage necessities together with your software.”


Enterprise Growth Coordinator | Bachelor’s diploma, two to 3 years of expertise | $45–50,000 a 12 months

Cataloguer | Bachelor’s diploma, Grasp’s most well-liked, two years of expertise | $47–52,000 a 12 months

Momentary United States Tax Administrator | Bachelor’s diploma, one 12 months of expertise | $20–25 an hour

Momentary Artwork Handler | $20–25 an hour

See Also
Through Art, Texans Memorialize Victims of Uvalde Shooting

Public sale homes supplied a few of the lowest wages within the listings Hyperallergic surveyed. Many roles are momentary or seasonal, which may exclude these workers from advantages like medical insurance underneath the necessities of the Reasonably priced Care Act. Christie’s raked in $7.1 billion in gross sales final 12 months — and yesterday offered $1.5 billion price of artwork in the costliest public sale in its historical past — however a enterprise growth coordinator in Trusts, Estates & Value determinations will make solely $45–50,000 a 12 months. Whereas that wage is already beneath New York Metropolis’s residing wage as calculated by MIT, it comes with extra necessities than entry-level positions: two to 3 years of labor expertise on high of a most well-liked Bachelor’s diploma. A cataloguer within the ornamental arts division will even make lower than the residing wage at solely $47–52,000 a 12 months, with a minimal of two years of paid expertise within the arts and a Bachelor’s diploma within the wonderful or ornamental artwork class (or equal work expertise), however a Grasp’s diploma is most well-liked. 

The public sale home can be promoting a number of momentary positions. A United States tax administrator (Bachelor’s diploma and a 12 months of labor expertise required) will make $20–25 an hour, and a momentary artwork handler will make $25 an hour, inching near the $25.42 residing wage however particularly notable because of Christie’s try final month to aestheticize the murals handlers with a tasteless sweatshirt.


Director of Advertising and marketing and Technique | 10 years of expertise | $135–210,000 a 12 months

Momentary Put up Sale Coordinator | 3–5 years of expertise | $22–26 an hour

Property handler | $24.50 an hour

At Sotheby’s, wages have been equally low and seasonal, however some supplied doubtful ranges, too: The director of promoting and technique for the Luxurious Division can anticipate to make wherever between $135,000 to $210,000 a 12 months — a spot that might pay the annual wage of its lowest-paid staff two occasions over. A property handler will make $24.50 an hour, beneath the $25.42 residing wage, however in step with the union contract. The public sale home pulled in $7.3 billion in gross sales in 2021.


Phillips, the smaller of the facility participant public sale home trifecta, can be promoting unlivable wages. An accounting assistant will earn $18.27 to $20.19 per hour, a part-time seasonal operations assistant (with three years of expertise in an “public sale home, internationally acknowledged gallery or museum”!) will make a meager $20 to $23 per hour, and a spring intern within the twentieth century and modern artwork division will make solely $15 {dollars} an hour, the minimal wage in New York Metropolis. That’s an enchancment from the extraordinarily low bar set by unpaid internships, which have sparked dialog in previous years surrounding their function in furthering range and inclusion disparities at artwork establishments. Whereas Phillips is smaller than Sotheby’s and Christie’s, it nonetheless made $1.2 billion in gross sales in 2021, essentially the most profitable 12 months in its historical past.

College of Visible Arts

One of many lowest wages we discovered was $38,200 for an affiliate in mail processing and workplace providers on the College of Visible Arts, however as of November 10, the establishment didn’t disclose wage for a number of of its open positions.

New York joins a number of different states with comparable wage transparency legal guidelines, and for the artwork world, it’s been a very long time coming. Over the summer time, the Community of Rising Museum Professionals created a database that tracks which job boards submit compensation, and a month later, the American Alliance of Museums introduced it could require pay transparency on their job board efficient November 15. Whereas employers have modified their itemizing to adjust to the brand new legislation, lots of their salaries have remained disappointing.

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top