Serpentine Gallery: working at home

The last three editorials have dealt with a charity called the Serpentine Gallery. We’ve observed limousines lined up outside signifying whose interests the gallery really serves. We have identified overmanning and fat cat pay increases for two directors. And, last time, we highlighted an outside PR agency working between press and gallery in order to disarm justified criticism.

Apologies for boring you further, but there’s more. I’m not satisfied we’ve got to the bottom of Hans Ulrich Obrist’s presence at the Serpentine. He is, after all, a second highly overpaid director in a publicly funded gallery whose peer organisations employ only one director for a quarter of the cost of Obrist and Peyton-Jones combined. I question the need for the supernumerary Obrist.

When I asked the gallery how many days Obrist spent there in 2013 they answered, ambiguously to my mind: “He works full-time at the Serpentine gallery.” Well, yes. But hang on a minute: “He travels a great deal, usually at the weekends, and works remotely at these times.” Why does link organising an exhibition programme for the Serpentine involve such “a great deal” of travel?

You may recall from a recent editorial that Obrist enjoyed an almost 50% pay increase to between £130,000 and £140,000 a year, putting him on a par with major museum directors worldwide. For example,