BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — An audit found that the Louisiana State Museum lacked policies for using an apartment meant for museum-related purposes.

The New Orleans building was bequeathed to the museum by William Ratcliffe Irby in 1926, stating in his will that the property and its revenues would be used for the museum, according to the background history provided in the audit. The LSM Board, which serves as a trustee and management for the building, designated one of the building’s apartments to be used for museum-related purposes.

After reviewing 20 stays at the apartment between July 2020 and April 2022, auditors found eight stays that did not fall within compliance. According to the audit, two stays had “vague” reasoning for use, three stays were for personnel but were “insufficient to demonstrate a museum-related purpose” and three other stays possibly violated not only the trust requirements but the Louisiana Constitution as it was donated through fundraising efforts.

Under state law, state-owned property should not be “loaned, pledged, or donated to or for any person, association, or corporation, public or private.”

In a letter, Susan Mclay, interim director of the Louisiana State Museum, disagreed with the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s findings.

“We do not concur with the suggestion that use of the Irby Apartment and the policy pertaining thereto in any way implicate the Irby Trust. We also do not concur with the suggestion that the use of the Irby Apartment for tourism, cultural development, and other DCRT purposes is inconsistent with ‘museum purposes’ and/or that the policy related thereto is inconsistent with Article VII, Section 14 of the Louisiana Constitution,” a portion of the letter read.

Officials recommended that the Louisiana State Museum revise its apartment use policy and suggest the board consider if the Office of the Lieutenant Governor should reimburse the trust for the times that the apartment was misused. The board was also suggested to provide more oversight of the apartment’s use.

Some spending didn’t meet requirements

Auditors also reviewed trust money spent between July 1, 2020, and April 30, 2022. Findings included six expenditures lacking evidence of authorization before purchases and one expenditure over the total approved purchase order.

Mclay said the museum agreed with trust expenditure findings, stating that corrective actions to fix errors have been implemented and staff will be educated about purchase requirements.

Click here to view the full audit.