Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, closed since the evening of March 12 to help stem the spread of coronavirus, announced today that it has laid off 57 members of its staff as it faces the long-term financial damage of the pandemic. In addition, 56 employees have volunteered for early retirement, the museum reports.

“Owing to the financial impact of the MFA’s extended closure, we have undergone the difficult but necessary process of reworking our business model to accommodate our new realities—which include a reduction in our workforce,” a museum statement announced today. “As we move toward creating a sustainable future for the MFA in these uncertain times, we must recognize that the Museum will continue to be affected by the pandemic in the long term. After carefully considering the role played by each employee in the operations of the Museum, we have restructured the organization to align with our new business model: 56 eligible employees have elected voluntary early retirement and 57 have been laid off. We did not arrive at this decision lightly and are extremely grateful for the dedication of these staff members and their contributions to the MFA over the years.”

“This has been an extremely painful process. I have great respect for my colleagues and the extraordinary work we have done together—for our communities in Boston and around the world. They will always be part of our MFA family,” MFA Director Matthew Teitelbaum said in a written statement. “Faced with the challenges of a significantly changed financial environment, we made this difficult decision based on the need to create stability and sustainability for the MFA—an institution that means so much to so many.”

On April 3, the museum announced plans to furlough “approximately 340 staff” as part of “cost containment measures” that the museum said would also “utilize endowment funds to the extent possible, and furlough staff eligible for unemployment insurance and new government programs. All eligible employees will receive full health care benefits and there will be no layoffs at this time.”

On April 14, the MFA joined New England Aquarium, Boston Children’s Museum, Boston’s Museum of Science and Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston in calling on the U.S. Congress to provide financial aid to non-profit organizations to help them survive coronavirus.

Coronavirus cases have been increasing in Massachusetts in recent weeks. The city of Somerville reports, “According to the data dashboard, the statewide 7-day-weighted-average positive molecular test rate has also been creeping up since mid-July, moving from 1.7% to 2% between July 14 and July 29. The State initiated the Phase 3 reopening on July 6. During that same time period, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Massachusetts’ 3-day-moving-average of daily new case counts has also been on an overall upward trend rising from 250 to 349 daily between July 14 and July 28.”

Other museums across the region have begun to reopen, beginning with Mass MoCA in North Adams on July 10, the Institute of Contemporary Art on July 14, the Gardner Museum on July 15, Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum on July 16, Boston’s Children’s Museum on July 22, and the Museum of Science on July 26.

The Museum of Fine Arts’ website presently states: “Taking the time to get this right, our cross-departmental teams are diligently working on a reopening approach that puts staff and visitor safety first. The MFA is currently targeting early fall for opening the building for members and the general public. As staff preparations ramp up over the summer, we will host a range of outdoor events on the MFA’s campus starting in August and continuing through early September, including concerts and films in partnership with the Roxbury International Film Festival.​”

March 26: Museum Of Fine Arts Doesn’t Expect To Reopen Before July, Mulls Layoffs
April 1: MFA Cancels All Events And Programs Through Aug. 31
April 3: MFA To Furlough Approximately 340, Remain Closed Through June 30

Categories: Art