ST. LOUIS • The St. Louis Art Museum is now in the hot seat.
The board of the Zoo-Museum District, which oversees about $70 million sent to the region’s five tax-supported cultural institutions, voted Tuesday afternoon to examine the Art Museum’s governance and finances.
It is the third institution audited by the district. The first examination, of the St. Louis Science Center, revealed five-figure executive bonuses and a bevy of center vice presidents. The second, of the Missouri History Museum, uncovered a million-dollar land deal between the museum and a former board member, ex-Mayor Freeman Bosley, Jr.
Board member Tom Campbell, an attorney at the Polsinelli law firm, moved on Tuesday to inspect the Art Museum this year. He said he did not suspect any wrongdoing.
A few years ago, the board was concerned about the Science Center’s finances, Campbell said, and committed to reviewing all five institutions. “We decided it was probably a good oversight mechanism,” Campbell said after the meeting Tuesday. “We just said we'll do one a year.”
Campbell, in making his motion Tuesday, told the rest of the board that the Art Museum seemed like a good fit this year, since it has just finished its $130 million, 210,000 square-foot addition. And the St. Louis Zoo, which is also embarking on a major expansion, makes sense next year, he said.
Seven board members agreed. Only Jerry Glick, the owner of Glick Realty, dissented. Glick argued that the board hasn’t yet approved the recommendations stemming from the History Museum report.
Art Museum officials said after the meeting that they embrace "transparency and accountability" and noted no problems with the Zoo-Museum District's choice.
In other business, the board voted to require all five institutions to take meeting minutes and send the district drafts within two weeks of each meeting.
Editor's note: The Art Museum expansion raised $160 million; $130 million funded construction and $30 million was invested to cover annual operations.