Blog / Times get tougher…

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By Teka

I thought I’d post some text from some articles in the NY Times that Wendy alluded to yesterday, which deal with the economic hardships facing museums and the steps they’re taking to alleviate the financial stress.  Yesterday, the Times announced layoffs at three major US Museums, stating:

Three regional museums are cutting staff as the economic downturn takes its toll on attendance and endowments. The Detroit Institute of Arts said it would lay off about 20 percent of its staff, or 63 of its 301 employees, in an effort to cut $6 million from its $34 million annual budget, The Detroit Free Press reported. The layoffs would affect 56 full-time and 7 part-time employees from across the museum’s staff; the museum has already canceled planned exhibitions on the Baroque period and the artwork of Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Jim Dine. The Philadelphia Museum of Art said it would eliminate 30 positions through layoffs and attrition and cut the pay of its senior staff in an effort to reduce its operating budget by $1.7 million to $52 million, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The museum is also contemplating raising its admission fees, though that would ultimately require the approval of the city. The High Museum of Art in Atlanta announced a series of budget cuts on Wednesday, including a 7 percent reduction of its staff, the elimination of five full-time and three part-time positions, and pay cuts for its remaining employees. The museum said the reductions and other cost-cutting efforts would save $1.4 million and reduce its operating budget to $23.7 million.

In the meantime, the Met has announced that it will close 7 more of it’s satellite shops, bringing the total closed in this year alone to 15.  The Met apparently plans to focus it’s sales efforts on its on-line store.  But the store closures may be just the tip of the iceburg.  According to a Times article posted on 2/23:

Citing the global financial crisis, Mr. Houghton said the museum had imposed a hiring freeze and is curtailing staff travel and entertainment as well as the use of temporary employees. He also said the Met was in the process of a museum-wide assessment of expenses to see how it can further reduce costs. Emily Rafferty, the Met’s president, said Monday that “we cannot eliminate the possibility of a head-count reduction.”

Finally, the Las Vegas Museum of Art is closing.  According to a Times article also posted on 2/23:

The Las Vegas Art Museum will close on Saturday, joining the growing roster of cultural institutions that have suspended their operations in the face of a weakening economy, The Las Vegas Sun reported. The museum, which since 1997 has operated from the city’s Sahara West Library, lost its executive director, Libby Lumpkin, in December; she resigned when the museum’s board said budget cuts would result in reduced salaries and possible layoffs. Under her tenure the museum featured exhibitions on Frank Gehry and the Southern California artists Robert Irwin, John McCracken and James Turrell. But Patrick Duffy, the president of the museum’s board, said the museum had seen a substantial decrease in donations amid the financial downturn. “We’ve tried everything to keep this afloat,” Mr. Duffy said, according to The Sun. “It’s just a challenging time.”

Challenging times, indeed…

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