The Pérez Art Museum Miami Has Cut Over Half Its Staff and Won’t Reopen Until September

The museum is facing $3 million to $5 million in losses this year.

Pérez Art Museum Miami, Vertical Gardens. Photo courtesy of PAMM.

The Pérez Art Museum Miami is planning to stay closed until September and, as a result, will take a substantial financial hit.

The museum forecasts that it will lose between $3 million and $5 million in revenue this year (about 20 to 30 percent of its annual total).

To curtail the financial hemorrhaging it has made significant staff cuts. In April, 15 of the museum’s 120 full- and part-time employees were terminated and another 54 were furloughed. The layoffs hit every department, including its curatorial team, and the museum’s 49 remaining staff members are taking five to 15 percent salary cuts.

The decision to extend the closure, which began March 16, through the summer months comes as parts of the country are beginning to resume normal activities for non-essential businesses. The governor of Texas gave museums the green light to resume operations at 25 percent capacity as of May 1, but museums across the state are choosing to remain closed rather than risk endangering public health.

The Pérez Art Museum Miami. Photo courtesy of the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

The Pérez Art Museum Miami. Photo courtesy of the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

But by deciding in April to stay closed through September, the Pérez Museum is signaling that social distancing constraints will prevent normal museum operations longer than many had hoped. Even New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the first institutions in the country to shut down, is targeting a July reopening.

Keeping the doors shut also means that the Miami museum is canceling its spring show “Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection” and postponing “Allied With Power: African and African Diaspora Art from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection.” Summer exhibitions will also be delayed.

A spokesperson for the museum says it cannot rely solely on donors such as Jorge Pérez, a prominent real estate developer and art collector, to bail out the museum financially. (The museum renamed itself after Pérez when he donated $40 million to the institution in 2011).

Franklin Sirmans, director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Photo courtesy of the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Franklin Sirmans, director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Photo courtesy of the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

“This unprecedented event demanded immediate fiscally responsible actions in addition to donor support in order to address shortfalls in the annual budget for 2020,” the spokesperson told Artnet News. “Each and every board member contributes to [the museum] in meaningful ways on an ongoing basis. That said, the museum is preparing a fundraising plan that involves the board of trustees.”

“We feel horrible that we had to do this,” museum director Franklin Sirmans told the Miami Herald, “but we will move forward, being deliberate about what we can do.”

Those currently furloughed will be brought back on September 1. The museum spokesperson said there were “no plans” for additional layoffs “in the immediate future.”

UPDATE: A PAMM spokesperson has allowed for the possibility the museum will move up its planned reopening date, saying “the museum stated a September 1 reopening to be conservative and thoughtful… taking the county directives and public safety into mind. But if Florida institutions were to begin opening in June or July, they’d of course like to reopen sooner.”

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