The Met Hands the Pink Slip

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It is a heartbreaking reality, especially for art lovers, that when times are tough, the art world is usually one of the ones taking the hit. The annual reports are in for the 2008-2009 quarter, and it seems that the 140-year-old museum is facing some major deficits. It is almost difficult to imagine that the city’s most popular museum has struggled with their stocks and in fundraising.

The museum “never expected to find itself facing the unprecedented challenges that were brought on by the recent global financial crisis,” wrote President Emily K. Rafferty and Director Thomas P. Campbell.

It turns out that their operating deficit had increased from $1.9 million to $8.4 million, and the job cuts were expected to avoid future annual deficits of $20 million or more. Adding to the situation, donor’s gifts plummeted by 46 percent, membership renewal levels weren’t up to par, and their efforts to raise money via Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter were disappointing.

Ninety-five staffers took voluntary retirement packages, while 157 were fired. Among the positions left were librarians, curators, editors, researchers, and sales people. Their retail division closed ten stores outside the museum, a division that was causing a lot of monetary loss.  According to their annual report, “the museum anticipates that support will remain soft” through June. I imagine the office of unemployment must be very busy now.

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