The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has laid off 81 employees in its visitor services and retail departments. The museum, which was first in New York to close its doors due to the pandemic, has updated its projection of lost revenue to $150 million.

In addition to the layoffs, the museum announced today, April 22, that its top executives will be taking salary reductions. That includes 20% pay cuts for director Max Hollein and president and CEO Daniel H. Weiss and 10% for 11 other museum officers.

Salary and benefits constitute more than 65% of the Met’s annual budget. In March, artnet reported that according to tax filings, the highest-paid executive at the museum is chief investment officer Lauren Meserve, who earned $1.6 million in 2018-2019 (an 8.3% increase from her salary of $1.47 million in 2017–18). Weiss is second on the list of highest-paid employees with a total pay package of $1.25 million (a 25% increase over the $1 million he made in the previous year). Hollein, who entered his position at the start of 2019, made $764,093 in the six-month period.

“Our two primary objectives continue to be doing all that we can to support the health and safety of our community and to protect the long-term financial health of the Museum,” said Weiss in a statement to Hyperallergic. “The arts and culture community is facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude in our lifetimes.”

In March, the Met sent a letter to its department heads forecasting $100 million in losses and remaining closed until July. Although it led the way in reacting to the pandemic, it hesitated from reducing staff until now.

“On this our 150th anniversary year, we take strength from the resilience and vision that built our beloved institution,” Weiss continued. “While we are not immune from the impact of this pandemic, The Met is a strong and enduring institution and will remain one.”

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...

One reply on “Metropolitan Museum Lays Off 81 Employees; Now Estimates $150M in Losses”

  1. This is a sad reminder of the 104 layoffs in 1972 after the budget overruns caused by the 100th Anniversary celebration.

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