The Guggenheim Museum in New York laid off 24 of its staff today, September 16. An additional eight employees who accepted voluntary separation packages will end their employment at the museum on September 30.
“We have leaned into all the options we have available to us, including decreasing operating expenses, hiring freezes, analyzing business needs and departmental priorities, and reducing leadership salaries,” said the museum’s director, Richard Armstrong, in a letter to staff today.
“Even with those efforts, for every month that the museum has been closed, the Guggenheim’s income has decreased by $1.4 million with a projected revenue loss of over $15 million this year,” Armstrong continued. “We also know that when we reopen, admissions will be greatly reduced from normal levels as attendance will be limited to 25 percent of capacity.”
Armstrong added that the laid-off workers were offered severance packages based on their current salaries and years of employment. They will also have access to COBRA healthcare coverage and Employee Assistance Program benefits.
In addition, Armstrong promised to work with the remaining employees to “to appropriately adjust workflows” and vowed restated the museum’s commitment to a Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion (DEAI) plan it announced in August.
“These business adjustments are not a reflection of our staff’s efforts, talent, or dedication to the organization, but of the reality of the present economic conditions and the financial impact of mandated closures and restrictions that are affecting arts institutions and non-profits,” Armstrong wrote. “These very difficult decisions will help us navigate the balance of 2020 and establish a stronger foundation for the future.”
The announcement comes on the same day that an anonymous group of Guggenheim employees, called A Better Guggenheim, sent a letter to the museum demanding the resignation of three top executives, including Armstrong. The missive details allegations of mismanagement against the director, as well as Elizabeth Duggal, Senior Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer, and Nancy Spector, Artistic Director and Chief Curator.