The Metropolitan Museum laid off more than 80 employees and fears a $150-million shortfall from COVID-19.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Photo by Benjamin Sutton for Artsy
The Metropolitan Museum of Art laid off more than 80 employees on Wednesday, roughly a quarter of its visitor service and retail staff. The cuts were announced Wednesday morning in a letter to employees that also revealed its initial projection of a $100-million shortfall had grown to $150 million. The letter added that executive staff would receive pay cuts upwards of 20 percent to help the museum weather the COVID-19 crisis. Laid off employees will be paid through the first week of June.
President and CEO of the Met Daniel Weiss said in a statement quoted by the New York Times:
While we are not immune from the impact of this pandemic, the Met is a strong and enduring institution and will remain one. Our two primary objectives continue to be doing all that we can to support the health and safety of our community and to protect the long-term financial health of the Museum.
The layoffs come as New York City considers slashing its cultural funding budget in order to weather its own impending shortfall. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget proposed a 35 percent cut to the Department of Cultural Affairs, which provides funding and support to arts nonprofits across the five boroughs. While an institution as large as the Met doesn’t rely solely on DCLA funding, the proposed cuts would be a very significant blow to many smaller museums in the city.