May 27, 2024

Update on the Museum Closure Policies (Mar. 18, 2020)


Dear Local 1503 Membership,

Below is a copy of the text sent by the Museum to all staff regarding the closure due to Corona crisis:

“Dear Colleagues,

The last week has been intense for all of us, and now that we are starting to settle into this period of closure and working remotely, we would like to share how we are planning for the weeks and months ahead.

These are unprecedented times for all of us. No one can say with certainty how the coronavirus pandemic will play out, but we are listening to public health experts, along with our partners in government, as we prepare for the social, cultural, and economic repercussions ahead of us. Below is a series of bullets summarizing our current plans, which we shared yesterday on a call with all department heads and earlier today via email.

We wish to uphold the same level of transparency for all of our staff. Please know that while the points outlined below describe actions that will be disruptive and upsetting to our entire community, we are committed to proceeding as carefully and respectfully as we possibly can. Moreover, we will continue to keep you updated on plans as they develop.

    • Leadership has been working intensively on managing through the current crisis, with support from staff throughout the Museum. Our colleagues have been remarkable.
    • We have a set of comprehensive communication and engagement plans with Department Heads, Board members, Emergency Management Teams, Forum and Assembly Leadership, all staff and volunteers, Museum supporters, Members, friends, and government officials.
    • All events and programs have been canceled through May 15, with likely further cancellations for all of June. Max and his team will outline a revised program in the next few weeks.

The Museum is likely to enter into a three-phase period to deal with the coronavirus crisis. To be clear, these dates are our best, early estimates based upon what we are hearing from public health experts as well as local, state, and federal leaders. If the situation changes and the institution is in a position to open sooner, we will adjust our timetable.

    • Phase 1: March 12-April 4. All staff, except those designated essential, will remain home and work there if possible. Everyone is to be paid during this period. We will evaluate the impact of various revised staffing plans, including furloughs, layoffs, voluntary retirements, and required use of vacation and sick leave.
    • Phase 2: April 5-June 30. In all likelihood, the Museum will remain closed to the public and may require all staff to continue to work from home. During this period, plans will be developed to address the new financial reality that this pandemic has created.  We will be evaluating how to control our spending and reduce operating costs, including: (1) freezing discretionary expenditures; (2) a hiring freeze; and (3) reviewing all operating budgets and staffing levels across the institution.
    • Phase 3: July 1-October 1. Reopen 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.

We are creating an emergency fund to deal with the financial challenge. Our objective is to create a $50+ million fund by reallocating discretionary resources towards operating expenses. These discretionary resources are usually used for acquisitions, programming, and other areas. This will only partially offset the overall shortfall, which could be closer to $100 million and will require further measures. We will also be reaching out to key supporters, including foundations and friends, to help. We will continue to pursue government help though relief programs as they emerge.

This is an extraordinarily challenging time for us all. As staff members of The Met we all have a profound responsibility to protect and preserve the treasured institution we inherited. We are both committed to being open and honest with everyone about the difficulties that lie ahead, and your department heads will be communicating regularly with you as well.

We are not alone facing these circumstances, and we know our entire society will feel the impact of these times for years to come. In particular, other arts and cultural organizations are especially vulnerable. We are working alongside our fellow museums and arts institutions now to develop a path forward for all of us. We must stand together in solidarity as we brave what is to come.

Please continue to share your thoughts with us, your manager, or department head. Thank you for all that you do for this Museum.

Thank you,

Dan and Max”

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