Uxorious Museum Director Accused of Nepotism

Wife of director hired as "consultant" to oversee museum branding

View Comments ()
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Michael Gray
    The Tech Museum is proving popular after a new director took over -- and shortly proposed hiring a consultant for work that his wife just happens to do.

    Husband and wife team Peter Friess and Birgit Binner have worked together at a number of museums over the years, in Germany, Switzerland and now in San Jose at the Tech Museum of Innovation.

    However, Binner didn't start working on a two-year branding contract at the museum which pays $400,000 and provides for free office space, until after Friess became director.

    The non-profit, taxpayer-supported museum's board of directors say that there was no conflict of interest in Binner's selection -- hers was the lowest bid for the contract.

    However, it was Friess who suggested the museum needed a design consultant in the first place.

    And employees, or what's left of them -- the museum's staff has been halved in the last decade -- told the San Jose Mercury News that the position was crafted to all but guarantee Binner's selection, and that Binner never actually submitted a formal portfolio of her work for consideration.

    But since the museum is a nonprofit that just happens to receive $1.3 million from the city of San Jose, and not actually a government agency, there is no law against nepotism.

    It's just considered bad form.

    Photo by Michael Gray.

    Jackson West is reconsidering his opposition to marriage, since it seems like it might be a good way to get a well-paying job without much effort.