The MFA cut more than 100 full- and part-time positions as the organization is forced to restructure its business model due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Of the 113 departing employees, 56 chose voluntary early retirement and 57 were laid off. The staff departures were “(n)early across every department of the museum,” according to the Museum of Fine Arts’ spokeswoman, Karen Frascona. The museum expects an additional 211 furloughed workers to return to their jobs, starting this month. Positions vacated by retirement have not necessarily been eliminated, the museum said, though it could not say if and when they might be filled due to the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic.
The MFA has been closed since March 13. While several other museums in Boston and across the state welcomed back visitors in July under Phase 3 of Governor Charlie Baker’s reopening plan, the MFA has so far declined to confirm a reopening date. Its representatives have said the museum plans to reopen at some point in the fall. According to Frascona, there are no plans to call back laid-off workers when the doors open again.
In early April, the MFA furloughed 301 employees whose incomes were maintained by unemployment benefits and government assistance to the museum provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the museum said at the time. These furloughs were intended to last until June 30, the day before the MFA’s initially scheduled reopening.
At the same time, CEO and director Matthew Teitelbaum took a 30 percent salary cut through June 30 (originally $841,921 according to the museum’s 2018 tax returns). Before the pandemic, the museum had close to 750 staff.
With the doors remaining closed, the organization continues to lose out on revenue. In a statement Monday, Teitelbaum said staff reductions were the result of a restructured business model “based on the need to create stability and sustainability for the MFA — an institution that means so much to so many.” The museum intends to offset its expected deficit of $12 million to $14 million for fiscal year 2020 (which ended June 30) through “cost containment, incremental fund-raising and the use of reserve funds,” Frascona said.