By Elizabeth Merritt. From aam-us.org. Posted on 5/30/18.
The Slate project is only the latest in a series of stories that document changing attitudes towards nonprofits in general and museums in particular. A few years ago, Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah and Chair of the Senate Finance Committee), launched an extended investigation into selected private museums (broadly speaking, museums founded, funded, and to some extent controlled by wealthy art collectors). Questioning whether these organizations actually operate in the public interest, Senator Hatch flagged 502(c)3 status as an “area of our tax code ripe for exploitation.” While his inquiry concluded in 2016, the questions he raised aren’t going away. Just last month Crain’s New York drew attention to The Solow Art and Architecture Foundation, a small museum displaying the collection of billionaire real estate developer Sheldon Solow. Noting that the lack of regular public open hours, Crain’s basically accused Solow of running the museum as a tax avoidance scheme, and took a side swipe at other private museums in the process.