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Metropolitan Museum of Art to shrink staff

March 12, 2009 |  2:09 pm

Met_museum_of_art_2 In recent months, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art has shuttered a third of its 23 retail stores around the country, including outlets in Century City and Pasadena, citing faltering revenue amid the nation's economic crisis. Today the museum announced additional cuts in full- and part-time merchandising staff, bringing the total positions lost to 127.

Wrapped inside the announcement, however, was this far more worrisome news:

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.

The expected layoffs in curatorial, administrative, maintenance and other core departments of America's flagship art museum number up to 250 jobs. The New York Times has reported that the Met's endowment has shrunk 28% -- about $800 million -- in the ongoing recession and now stands at less than $2.1 billion.

The museum previously instituted a hiring freeze and eliminated merit salary increases for the next fiscal year.

You can read the full statement from the museum after the jump.

-- Christopher Knight

Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art

STATEMENT BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
March 12, 2009

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 cost-
saving 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.

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