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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Henrik Kam. Courtesy of SFMOMA.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Henrik Kam. Courtesy of SFMOMA.

SFMoMA to Lay Off or Furlough More Than Three Hundred Employees

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) is the latest major arts institution to cut its workforce in order to reduce payroll expenses as the United States continues to try to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to KQED, museum president Neal Benezra said that layoffs were necessary in order to “ensure the long term viability of the museum.”

The institution will be closed until July, a projection also shared by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and is preparing for a loss of $8 million in revenue. In order to ease the financial hardship, the museum will furlough or reduce the hours of nearly two hundred employees, beginning May 1, and will lay off 135 on-call staffers on April 9. The management team’s paychecks will also be reduced.

“We have been fortunate to be able to keep our staff on full compensation for seven weeks after we closed, but we now have to look to the future and make the painful decision to temporarily decrease the size of our team,” said Benezra. The institution’s regular employees will have health-care benefits through the museum for two months after they are furloughed, and SFMoMA has committed to paying 100 percent of premiums during this difficult time.

Among the institutions across the US that have also laid off workers are the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Hammer Museum at UCLA; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; and the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh.