The Tenement Museum in New York (Jay manday/Wikimedia Commons)

The Tenement Museum on Manhattan’s Lower East Side announced today, July 22, that it has laid off its entire staff of part-time educators. The group of 71 workers constitutes 92% of the museum’s education staff. Five other hourly employees from the retail, marketing, and visitor services departments have also been laid off.

The 76 former employees join 13 full-time staff who were laid off at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown in March. On April 27, the Tenement Museum received a $1.4 million loan from the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which it used to recall 40 full-time employees who had been furloughed on March 13.

In a statement to Hyperallergic, the Tenement Museum’s president, Morris Vogel, said, “Our educators make our programs come to life. They are an important part of the Museum’s success. We had hoped to avoid this drastic step.”

According to a museum spokesperson, Vogel took a 99% salary reduction in March. (He is currently being paid about $25 a month to be able to retain his healthcare coverage.) Additional salary reductions for senior staff are being currently being considered. The museum estimates at least a 50% budget reduction for the coming year (the museum’s annual budget before COVID-19 was about $11 million) due to the revenue losses caused by the pandemic.

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Hakim Bishara

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...

3 replies on “Tenement Museum Lays Off 76 Workers, Including Entire Staff of Part-time Educators”

  1. This really stings. I hope they’re able to find other positions, or for the museum to hire some of them back soon. I certainly commend the President for opting to cut his salary so his employees could be paid. That is true leadership.

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