Facing Its ‘Most Serious Financial Crisis’ Ever, MoMA PS1 Furloughs More Than 70 Percent of Workers

Alex Greenberger

BY ALEX GREENBERGER

April 21, 2020 12:51pm

MoMA PS1.PABLO ENRIQUEZ

Yet another major New York museum has announced furloughs because of the ongoing coronavirus shutdown. MoMA PS1 in Queens informed its employees on April 13 that there would be widespread furloughs affecting the museum’s workforce. In a letter to the museum’s staff, Kate Fowle, PS1’s director, said that the museum was facing its “most serious financial crisis” ever. “We expect the severe impact of this pandemic will be felt not only in the months ahead but for years to come,” Fowle wrote.

A PS1 representative confirmed that the furloughs impact the majority of the museum’s workforce. Last week, 47 employees—more than 70 percent of the museum’s workforce—were told that they were furloughed; just 17 employees are left working at the museum.

According to Fowle’s letter, the museum will pay everyone’s salary through May 1 and offer health insurance through July 31. Every employee making more than $70,000 will receive a pay cut of between 5 percent and 40 percent. The museum said it is expecting that furloughs will last through the end of July.

PS1’s furloughs follow similar measures instituted at other major New York museums. The Whitney Museum laid off 76 employees earlier this month, and the Museum of Modern Art cut all 85 of its freelancers in the education department. And the Guggenheim Museum and the New Museum both furloughed workers. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has committed to paying all workers until May 2.

“Even at such a time, PS1’s culture is deeply rooted in caring for each other and our communities, and I am extremely grateful for the dedication of the museum’s extraordinary staff,” Fowle said in a statement to ARTnews. “I look forward to the day when we will be through this crisis and able to become a whole team again. We will continue to work with PS1’s Board and our partners at the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, as well as MoMA, to understand the best way forward for the museum’s long-term success.”

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