Art Market

The Museum of Modern Art made drastic cuts in order to weather COVID-19.

Justin Kamp
May 7, 2020 3:53PM, via Bloomberg

Installation view detail of Echo (2019) by Philippe Parreno, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has undertaken drastic cuts in order to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. MoMA director Glenn Lowry said on a Zoom call reviewed by Bloomberg that the museum has reduced its budget from around $180 million to $135 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1st, with exhibition and publication funding both being cut by around 50 percent. It has also reduced its staff from roughly 960 employees to 800.

Bloomberg quoted Lowry stating on the Zoom call:

You don’t take $45 million out of a budget elegantly. You take it out in very large units, and you take it very quickly, and you spend a lot of time not just with your key trustees but with key staff, sharing why you’re doing this.

Lowry also expanded on MoMA’s plans for reopening, which he estimates will happen sometime between July and September. He noted that nearly all aspects of the visitor experience would likely change in order to make the museum “the safest place to visit.” Potential measures include contactless entry, timed ticketing systems, and reducing the visitor capacity to as low as 1,000 at a time. The museum is also reconsidering wall labels, which Lowry notes could be “points of anxiety because people cluster to read them.”

The operational changes come less than a year after the museum underwent a $450-million renovation that included a 47,000-square-foot expansion as well as a commitment to rehanging 30 percent of its permanent exhibition space every six months. The museum said it is re-examining the frequency of that planned rotation schedule.

Further Reading: How Three Very Different Museums Are Dealing with the COVID-19 Crisis

Further Reading: Ongoing Coverage of COVID-19’s Impact on the Art World

Justin Kamp