18 May 2020
By Mike Scutari
In late April, facing a potential shortfall of as much as $150 million, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced layoffs and executive pay cuts. “While we are not immune from the impact of this pandemic, the Met is a strong and enduring institution and will remain one,” said Daniel Weiss, president and chief executive officer.
Painful cuts aside, Weiss has reason to be optimistic about the museum’s fate. The Met can access a $50 million emergency fund, a $3.6 billion endowment, a board-designated fund of $935 million that does not have donor restrictions, and a Rolodex of patrons who contributed $211.5 million in support in 2019. Many have already risen to the occasion. “Our trustees are clearly stepping up and wanting to make sure that they’re helping the institution. That support is coming immediately, and strongly,” said Met Director Max Hollein.
Add it all up, and Artnet News’ Sarah Cascone’s prediction still holds: “Despite its dire circumstances,” she wrote, the Met “is well positioned to get through the current storm.”
The same can’t be said for smaller museums. The American Alliance of Museums estimates that 30% of museums, mostly in small and rural communities, will not be able to reopen without immediate financial support from the government.
In mid-May, these museums received some good news when Alice Walton’s Art Bridges announced its $5 million Bridge Ahead Initiative to support current and former partner museums, many of which are located in small and mid-sized communities affected by COVID-19.
And so the stage is set. Can billionaires stave off a museum meltdown? Most certainly. But the more salient question is which kinds of museums will billionaires rescue? Wealthy institutions like the Met, or smaller organizations that had to scrounge for funding long before COVID-19 turned the world upside down?
Read the full article, and see DDP Founder Liza Yntema’s take on the PPP loan here.