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The interior of the Guggenheim museum in New York City (photo by Wallygva, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Guggenheim Museum projects a revenue shortfall of $10 million due to the ongoing pandemic, said an email from museum director Richard Armstrong to staff sent this morning. The message also announces furloughs and salary reductions, as well as pay cuts for museum leadership. In an email to Hyperallergic, the museum confirmed 92 staff would be furloughed.

“This decision did not come easily. A team of senior leaders and members of the Board of Trustees have evaluated the serious financial challenges brought about by the pandemic,” says Armstrong’s email to staff.

“We have lost all admission revenue, cancelled education classes, public programs, and special events, and witnessed a decline in our endowment. We might also anticipate that at re-opening, admissions revenue will be substantially lower than previously.” The Guggenheim’s endowment stood at $85,538,857 as of its 2018 filings.

Like thousands of institutions around the world, the Guggenheim closed its New York venue on March 13, following closures at its sister museums in Venice and Bilbao, to contain the spread of coronavirus.

According to Armstrong’s email, both regular full-time and part-time salaried and hourly staff who have been furloughed will be paid through April 19, and unused, accrued vacation time will be paid out in a lump sum by May 1. Employees receiving healthcare will be covered until the date of rehire or July 31, whichever comes first.

“The @Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong sent us all an email announcing staff wide furloughs today,” tweeted the Guggenheim Union. “Instead of security for staff, museum bosses chose to add to this crisis for working people. We’re not surprised, but also not giving up.”

Armstrong also relayed to employees that the museum’s leadership would be taking pay cuts. “Staff making more than $80,000 will take a salary reduction on a graduated basis, with the percentages being higher at higher salary levels,” he wrote.

While the shuttered museum hopes to reopen its doors on July 1, Armstrong cautioned that date was not set in stone.

“It is difficult to say at this moment whether or not that will be advisable. When we do come back, the consensus is that the world in which we will find ourselves will be very different,” he told staff.

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Valentina Di Liscia

Valentina Di Liscia is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Argentina, she studied at the University of Chicago and is currently working on her MA at Hunter College, where she received the...