Art Market

The Metropolitan Museum of Art extended employee payment through May 2nd.

Justin Kamp
Mar 31, 2020 4:48PM, via The New York Times

A closed sign outside of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Cindy Ord via Getty Images.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it will pay its 2,200 staff members through May 2nd. Employees were previously informed the museum could only guarantee payment until April 4th due to the museum’s forced closure in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The museum also agreed to pay its unionized staff—including security guards and maintenance workers—overtime hazard pay in compensation for their roles as essential onsite employees.

Daniel Weiss, the museum’s president and CEO, told the New York Times:

Our highest priority remains to support our staff as best we can in helping to keep everyone safe and as financially secure as possible. [...] We realize that this announcement of a four-week extension of full salary support does not provide enduring comfort, but at the moment it is the best we can do in a rapidly evolving situation.

The museum expects decreased revenue even after quarantine measures are lifted, and is exploring the possibility of diverting money from its $3.6-billion endowment to fund operations, although museum executives are wary of taking this route.

The Met’s announcement comes as recent projections estimate a loss of $100 million in the museum’s revenue as cultural institutions across the country brace for the financial fallout of COVID-19. Last week, Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art was forced to lay off 97 part-time workers. UCLA’s Hammer Museum laid off 150 part-time student employees the same day. SFMOMA will lay off or furlough more than 300 workers. Other museums across the country have faced similar cutbacks.

Earlier this month, the Met launched the #CongressSaveCulture social media campaign to encourage Congress to include a $4 billion arts bailout in the $2 trillion federal stimulus package. The measure was supported by the American Alliance of Museums, which pointed out in a letter sent to congressional leaders that museums provide more than $12 billion in tax revenue and 726,000 jobs nationally. On Friday, ARTnews reported that despite these efforts, arts organizations will only receive an approximate $300 million in total from the approved stimulus bill.

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Justin Kamp