Major museums around the world have been forced to make staff and budget cuts due to closures associated with the pandemic. In New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, anticipating a $150 million revenue shortfall, has laid off 81 employees, and the Whitney Museum has laid off 76 workers. Now, the Museum of Modern Art, which unveiled its rehang and $450 million expansion in October, has reportedly taken measures to ensure its own preservation after the crisis.
According to a report by Bloomberg, MoMA director Glenn Lowry said on a video conference call with other museum professionals that the museum’s staff of 960 employees has been reduced to about 800 workers. (In April, Hyperallergic reported that MoMA laid off all 85 of its contracted workers in the education department. A representative for the museum told ARTnews that the education department “remains fully and completely staffed.”) “We will learn to be a much smaller institution,” Lowry reportedly said.
He also revealed that the museum’s exhibition budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 has been slashed from $18 million to $10 million, and that its publications budget has also been reduced by half. The museum’s budget has sustained a $45 million cut overall, with a reduction from around $180 million to $135 million.
ARTnews has reached out to MoMA for comment.
MoMA has not yet announced a specific date to reopen its doors, though Lowry reportedly said it would welcome visitors again sometime between July and September. At that point, the institution will enforce social distancing practices that could include timed-ticket entry for just 1,000 guests at a time, removals of wall labels that visitors sometimes gather around, and rearrangements of artworks on display. As part of the reopening, the museum may also be forced to abandon or modify a plan to cycle out artworks displayed as part of its new permanent collection rehang.
Lowry reportedly expressed concern about the viability of small art institutions in the wake of the crisis, referencing recent furloughs at MoMA PS1. Bloomberg reports that Lowry said of MoMA PS1, “We’re going to make sure they survive.”
Update 5/6/20 11:30 p.m.: A comment from a MoMA spokesperson regarding the museum’s education department has been added to this article.