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The Broad, Los Angeles.

Furloughs and Job Cuts Hit MoMA PS1 and the Broad

MoMA PS1 in New York and the Broad in Los Angeles are reducing their staffs as closures due to COVID-19 continue. The Broad will lay off 130 workers—one full-time and 129 part-time employees—starting Friday, and MoMA PS1 has furloughed forty-seven members of its sixty-four-member staff. The institutions warned that the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus will continue after they reopen, at which time museums will navigate how to operate while abiding by social distancing guidelines.

“Once the immediate health crisis levels off, a long road of gradual reopening of every facet of normal life lies ahead, and returning The Broad to the bustling, busy museum it was just over a month ago is going to take much longer than originally anticipated,” museum director Joanne Heyler and deputy director Stacy Lieberman wrote in an email to employees, which was reviewed by the Los Angeles Times.

Across the coast, an email sharing a similar sentiment was sent from Kate Fowle, the head of MoMA PS1, to employees at the Queens museum. According to Artnews, Fowle told the staff that COVID-19 has caused the “most serious financial crisis” that the institution has ever faced. Fowle also said that she does not foresee the furloughed employees returning to work before July. MoMA PS1 has committed to compensating the staffers though May 1 and providing health benefits until July 31.

The Broad will pay its laid-off employees, who mostly hold visitor-facing and retail positions, for an additional week of work and will provide more payouts for those who have been employed at the institution for longer than six months. One of the workers, who chose to remain anonymous, told the Los Angeles Times that he and his colleagues were hoping that the museum would retain the staff through the closure: “Seems like mostly everyone was thinking the museum could ride this whole thing out when considering who owns the museum,” he said. “Everyone is totally bummed and extremely disappointed. Some are crying.”

Founded by American billionaires Eli and Edythe Broad, the Broad held out on downsizing its staff for longer than other major institutions in the city, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Hammer Museum, which both cut jobs last month, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which laid off or furloughed more than three hundred workers. Museums across New York, including MoMA PS1’s sister institution, the Museum of Modern Art, have also been forced to with make tough decisions regarding their staffs as they prepare for revenue shortfalls in the tens of millions of dollars.

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