The American Museum Of Natural History (AMNH) has announced that in order to deal with huge financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum will cut about 20 percent of its workforce through layoffs, furloughs and other cost-cutting measures. Altogether, around 450 out of approximately 1,100 employees are expected to be affected by the measures, the Times reports.
“These actions are gut-wrenching, but we are compelled to make them to protect the museum and its mission of research, science education, caring for our collections, and providing access for visitors," Ellen Futter, the museum’s president, said in a statement. "In planning for reopening, we are focused on the safety of our staff and visitors and are keenly aware of our unique role at the nexus of science and education, especially at a time when our lives, and our society, have been completely upended by a biological phenomenon.”
The full-time staff will be cut by about 200, which includes 68 layoffs, 70 voluntary retirements and ending ties with other workers whose contracts are expiring. About 250 other full-time employees will be placed on indefinite furlough; the museum said it “hopes to bring furloughed staff back to work in stages as it reopens and gradually resumes more normal operations," and that those employees will retain their health insurance during this period.
There will be salary reductions for employees who make $100,000 a year and up; Futter, who makes about $1 million annually, will be taking a 25 percent salary cut starting in the next fiscal year, which begins in July. Altogether, the museum is projecting a budget deficit of between $80 million and $120 million for the remainder of this fiscal year and the next fiscal year.
Other changes expected through the start of the next fiscal year: an anticipated reduction in the museum’s operating days and/or hours; delay of previously scheduled temporary exhibitions, including The Butterfly Conservatory and Sharks; and cancellation of all onsite public programs and school group visits until further notice.
Last year, the museum broke ground on a long-awaited expansion to coincide with its 150th anniversary. That includes the all-new 230,000-square-foot Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, which links 10 buildings and adds classrooms, galleries, a redesigned research library, and an immersive theater.
The AMNH isn't the only major cultural institution to face serious budgetary cuts because of the ongoing pandemic: earlier this week, the Metropolitan Opera announced it would furlough 41 members of its administrative staff, while 11 others will be cut to part-time hours.
“We have enjoyed greater success than I would have imagined in terms of keeping the Met connected through these various activities, and raising money through the emergency campaign,” Peter Gelb, the company’s general manager, told the Times. “On the other hand, the magnitude of the long-term damage — the immediate and long-term effects of the health crisis on the performing arts — seem graver and more challenging than they appeared a month ago.”
In late March, the Metropolitan Museum of Art said it was projecting a $100 million loss in revenues in the coming months, as well as the likelihood of layoffs.
All of the city's major cultural institutions, including museums and concert venues, remain closed while the city is under Governor Andrew Cuomo's PAUSE plan.