The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

This morning, March 24, the Metropolitan Museum in New York supported a request by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) that Congress direct $4 billion in federal funds to help buoy nonprofit museums during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter championed museums as foundational not only to national culture but to the economy, as they collectively generate $12 billion in taxes annually and provide 726,000 jobs.

So far, over 2,200 people have signed onto the Met’s petition asking Congress to promise these funds to museums in its potential $2 trillion stimulus package. The museum is encouraging its supporters, staff, and volunteers to send a letter in favor of this endowment to their representatives, and spread the word using the social media hashtag #CongressSaveCulture.

The Met became the first major museum in NYC to close its doors due to the novel coronavirus on March 12; within days, the rest of the city’s museums followed suit. The museum has since forecasted a $100 million loss during the closure, which is expected to last until July. In its letter to Congressional and Senatorial Leaders, co-signed by seven other museum organizations, AAM estimated that museums lose $30 million daily due to the pandemic, and 30% of existing museums may not be able to re-open their doors when the pandemic is resolved.

“Despite the abundance and excellence of the programs and resources that our country’s arts groups deliver, and the legions of audiences they serve, many already operate on the edge, with very limited reserves,” explained Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of the Met, in a press release. “All are facing unprecedented financial damage as a result of the immediate and long-term effects of the coronavirus on the economy. The need for government relief for arts institutions and their employees cannot be underestimated.”

Max Hollein, Director of the Met, remarked, “Museums play an instrumental role in our time and have done so for several centuries, by preserving local and international cultures, helping us interpret the many worlds we live in, and convening diverse communities. In this moment of crisis, we all must do what we can to ensure that this essential component of our society will be preserved and protected for future generations.”

Jasmine Weber is an artist, writer, and former news editor at Hyperallergic. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.