Sad stuff. Just received this press release from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
As part of an ongoing, and increasingly challenging, effort to maintain budgetary equilibrium in this worsening national economic climate — particularly for the retail sector — The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced that it must pare its merchandising work force by 74 positions, effective immediately. These staff reductions represent 27% of its full-time, and 9% of its part-time retail positions, and are in addition to the 53 positions eliminated in recent months through the closings of eight satellite Museum stores around the country. The decision acknowledges significant recent downturns in its merchandising sales, but also represents an effort to restructure this department so it remains competitive in the future and can continue to support museum programs.
At the same time, the Museum also anticipates the additional need to reduce the rest of its full- and part-time work force by approximately 10% in all other areas of its operations before the beginning of its next fiscal year July 1. Because The Metropolitan is so large and complex an organization, whose staff possess skill sets crucial to maintaining its buildings and collections successfully, such a contraction requires a deliberate and delicate process, which Museum management, while acknowledging the urgent need for reductions, is committed to undertaking with the greatest care. Among many recent costsaving efforts, the Museum previously instituted a hiring freeze and eliminated merit salary increases for the next fiscal year.
The Met is immensely grateful to all of its retail employees for their diligence and loyalty, and regrets deeply that recent losses in retail revenues — as well as prospective, significant, and long-term reductions in annual operating income for the Museum from its endowment — combine to make these extremely painful decisions absolutely necessary to bring the Museum’s operating expenses in line with reduced income during the difficult months and years to come.
In addressing these issues, the Trustees and management of the Metropolitan re-emphasize the institution’s determination — even in the wake of unprecedented financial pressures — to keep fully its longtime covenant with the museum-going public. The Met will continue to provide not only a safe repository for its vast collections, but a haven of enlightenment, education, and illumination for its diverse visitors from around the city and around the world, particularly at this time — when institutions that provide solace and inspiration are needed more than ever.