Museums in Philadelphia and New York including the Metropolitan Museum of Art are cutting stores, jobs and salaries as their endowments have been pounded by dwindling donations, government aid and financial markets.
The Met is closing 15 of its merchandising stores around the United States, leaving only eight stores open in New York. It will cut about 250 jobs, or 10 percent of its workforce of 2,500, before July 1.
It has lost about $800 million from its endowment since mid-2008 when it was worth about $2.9 billion, spokesman Harold Holzer said. There were no plans to cut exhibits.
It's a very strange economic climate we are in, Holzer said.
The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia announced on Friday a hiring freeze and that it would cut salaries 5 percent. Its endowment and other investments had dropped from $60 million in early 2008 to less than $40 million.
Holzer said the Met would lose $2.2 million from its operating budget of $220 million in the next fiscal year, and the operating budget would further be affected by the retail cutbacks and other losses.
Attendance was down at both museums as people concerned about the recession spend less. The Met said foreign visitors, who are more likely to pay the suggested $20 voluntary admission fee, had also dropped.
People have less money to spend on cultural and educational experiences, the Academy of Natural Sciences said in a statement.
Other museums around the United States that have laid off staff include the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the New York Times reported.
Other major New York museums declined to comment on whether they had suffered endowment losses or had plans for job or salary cuts. The Museum of Modern Art put in place a hiring freeze last October and ordered a general operating budget cut of 10 percent.