Taxpayer-Funded Louisiana State Museum Horribly Mismanaged

The Louisiana State Museum (LSM), which accepts millions of state taxpayer dollars, suffers one expensive mishap after another and needs to shape up, according to Louisiana Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack.

In an audit published this week, Waguespack faulted the Office of State Museum’s (OSM’s) leadership for wandering aimlessly as they manage nine different museum facilities throughout Louisiana. Those managers work within the state’s Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism (CRT), which itself falls under the purview of Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser.

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“We found that OSM has not had a permanent museum director since May 2016, which has resulted in a pattern of inconsistent leadership. According to multiple stakeholders, the museum director’s position has little autonomy and is political in nature due, in part, to the governance structure,” according to Waguespack’s audit.

“We also found that OSM does not have a comprehensive strategic plan or a detailed budget for the museum system or its exhibits. In addition, reduced staffing levels over several years has led to low employee morale and may affect museum operations. For example, full-time staff decreased 41.7 percent, from 108 employees in fiscal year 2009 to 63 in fiscal year 2022.”

Waguespack’s audit also said the following:

• The OSM does not have accurate visitor numbers for each museum “because it lacks a standard process for calculating and tracking admissions and event rentals.”

• Between fiscal years 2016 through 2022, OSM’s budget was $6.7 million, on average, per year.

• OSM is primarily funded through the State General Fund. In fiscal year 2022, 71.2 percent (or $5.5 million) of OSM’s funding came from State General Funds.


• Exactly 16.7 percent (or $1.3 million) of OSM’s funding came from interagency transfers, while 12.1 percent (or $940,960) came via self-generated revenues.

• From fiscal year 2018 through fiscal year 2021, support organizations provided $2.6 million, on average, in support per year to the museums, as well as providing supporting services.

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Waguespack’s audit urged the OSM to increase its fundraising efforts.

“Strengthening relationships with support organizations could help OSM maximize private funding and grants,” according to the audit.

OSM oversees nine state museum locations. Five are in New Orleans, two in rural southeast Louisiana, and one each in Baton Rouge and Natchitoches. Those museums include, among others, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, the Cabildo, the Capitol Park Museum, and the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the U.S. Mint.



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