New Orleans African American Museum

Unable to make ends meet, the New Orleans African American Museum cut expenses in late May by terminating executive director Jonn Hankins. One full-time and one part-time employee remain on the payroll, keeping the Treme landmark open to visitors while the board of directors seeks funding, board president Marsha Broussard said. “It’s a tough time; the economy is bad, ” she said, adding that financial troubles have touched several other local arts and culture institutions during the national economic slump that began in 2008. Louisiana ArtWorks, Prospect New Orleans, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre have all suffered well-publicized money woes over the past few years.

African-American-museum.jpg Eliot Kamenitz, The Times-Picayune archiveThe New Orleans African American Museum, seen in 2008, is based in the Treme Villa, an 1828 mansion at 1418 Gov. Nicholls St.

Broussard said the museum’s income has fluctuated over her five-year tenure on the board. Annual revenue would ideally hover at the half-million dollar mark, she said, paying the salaries of an executive director, education director and office manager and covering other expenses. But last year’s income was roughly $200, 000, Broussard said. In a belt-tightening measure, Broussard said that Hankins’ original salary of $75, 000 was cut by more than half before he was finally let go. Hankins had worked at NOAAM for roughly two years, Broussard said.

“We realized that we couldn’t sustain his salary, ” she said.

In 2011, the museum received a $3 million federal Community Development Block Grant to begin expanding. But board of directors chairman Adolph Bynum said that money could not be used to pay Hankins’ salary. If that had been possible, he said, Hankins would have been retained. Calls seeking comment from Hankins were not immediately returned.


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Q&A

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How many museums are in New Orleans?

New Orleans has only 40 museums you can go to. There are many categories that include art, family/children, history, and nature museums.


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