In Abrupt Announcement, Philadelphia Museum of Art Closes and Furloughs Staff

Connecting the Dots – #YesThisIsAnArtsStory Repost from Hyperallergic

Hakim Bishara | 20 November 2020

The Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) has closed to the public once again in compliance with the city’s new COVID-19 restrictions. The museum, like other cultural institutions in Philadelphia, is mandated to remain closed through January 1, 2021. With the second lockdown, the PMA announced another wave of furloughs, spurring outrage from workers.

PMA’s director Timothy Rub announced the new furloughs on Wednesday, November 18, in an email to staff, which was later obtained by Hyperallergic. Rub wrote that the furloughed workers will include “members of our staff whose job responsibilities depend on the museum being open to the public, require them to work onsite, or whose work can effectively be deferred for the period we will be closed.”

The decision will affect 57 employees, including frontline workers from the museum’s visitor services department, preparators, and curatorial staff in charge of archives. Many of them earn less than $15 per hour, according to the PMA Union.

Rub also announced a 10% pay cut for employees earning between $100,000 and $150,000 a year, and a 20% reduction on those earning more than $150,000.

“It is unfortunate that we once again have to make difficult decisions that will create hardships for some members of our staff during such a challenging time,” Rub wrote. “I wish that it could be otherwise, but hope you will understand that these steps have been taken to ensure that the museum’s ability to serve our community is not imperiled and that we will be able to move forward again with confidence as soon as time and circumstance permit.”