Facing unprecedented turmoil during the coronavirus closure, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has laid off 81 of its visitor services and retail employees. The museum has also announced that it expects a shortfall of at least $100 million in revenue as it will likely remain closed through the month of July.
In addition to the layoffs, the museum announced that executives will be seeing significant pay cuts. Max Hollein and Daniel H. Weiss, the museum’s director and CEO respectively, will take voluntary cuts of 20 percent while 11 other senior executives will take 10 percent cuts. Hollein and Weiss are among the highest paid museum directors, and according to the New York Post, their respective salaries are $764,093 and $1.2 million.
“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,” Weiss commented in a statement. “The arts and culture community is facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude in our lifetimes. On this our 150th anniversary year, we take strength from the resilience and vision that built our beloved institution. While we are not immune from the impact of this pandemic, the Met is a strong and enduring institution and will remain one.”
During the beginning of the pandemic, the Met promised to pay all employees’ salaries through May 2. The deadline was extended from April 4, the date which the museum initially said it would guarantee continuing offering salaries to its staff.
The Met now joins both the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art who have laid off staff in equal numbers and projected drastic revenue reduction as well. The Whitney Museum laid off 76 employees in April and said it foresees losses north of $7 million while the MoMA cut all its contracts with freelancers in the education department.
Depending on how the pandemic evolves, the museum is looking to reopen somewhere between July and October but with “a reduced program and lower cost structure that anticipates lower attendance for at least the next year due to reduced global and domestic tourism and spending”. According to the museum’s website, the operating budget for the museum is around $320 million.