The New Museum and Whitney Museum Cut Dozens of Employees as Lockdowns Continue With No End in Sight

The New Museum parted ways with 48 workers; the Whitney cut 76.

The New Museum. Image courtesy of Peter Guthrie via Flickr
The New Museum. Image courtesy of Peter Guthrie via Flickr

Just weeks after museums across the country started locking down, major institutions like the Metropolitan Museum announced staff cuts. Now, the latest news comes from the New Museum and the Whitney Museum in New York, which are both furloughing and laying off employees.

The New Museum has furloughed 41 full- and part-time members of its staff of 150, the majority of whom are paid hourly and work part-time in the front of house. They will be paid through April 15.

The New Museum said in a statement that it was a “very painful decision” and that “we hope to rehire them when conditions permit.”

The museum is also laying off seven other employees whose programs are either being discontinued or are significantly reduced. All senior staff will take salary cuts on a sliding scale from 10 to 20 percent, with the director, Lisa Phillips, taking a voluntary 30 percent reduction of salary.

The New Museum said that the institution and its trustees “have made it a priority to go above and beyond the terms of the union contract to provide all furloughed staffers extended health care at least through June 30.”

One of the museum’s union representatives told Artnet News many members of the New Museum Union were among those affected. “The union is working to negotiate with the museum regarding the impact of these furloughs and layoffs on our members. At this time of incredible stress and uncertainty for all, we stand in solidarity with our members who have been subject to furloughs and layoffs.”

The Whitney Museum of American Art. Image courtesy the museum.

The Whitney Museum of American Art. Image courtesy the museum.

The Whitney Museum, meanwhile, laid off 76 employees, most of whom had roles related to visitor services and therefore cannot work remotely. The museum informed staff yesterday that the layoffs were necessary because of a projected $7 million budget shortfall. They will be paid through April 17 or 24, depending on when they were hired.

Museum director Adam Weinberg and senior staff are also taking pay cuts, effective immediately. “We have made these decisions with great reluctance as we continue to assess this new and unforeseen landscape and try to forecast the months to come,” Weinberg said in a statement. “We are grateful to all our staff for the tremendous diligence and dedication they have shown throughout this time, and to the museum’s board of trustees for their continuing guidance and their financial support of the Museum, its programs, and its staff.”

The museum says it will continue to assess its finances and will make another announcement once it finalizes its budget for the next fiscal year.


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