There’s been a second round of layoffs at the Art Institute of about 65 employees, the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday. The first round of layoffs occurred approximately one year ago, when 22 employees lost their jobs. According to the Tribune, of the 65 layoffs, 50 are security managers.
That the majority of cuts are in the area of security shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that in March the Art Institute cut some of its gallery hours, closing some galleries for one to two hours a day in an effort to cut costs. At the time these “rotating closures” were described as an experiment that could potentially save the Museum $150,000 annually if continued. The cuts in security last week are probably a signal that fewer open hours in some galleries, on a rotating basis, are here to stay.
The other 15 positions cut include staff from the museum education department, retail operations, and the facility/physical plant department.
The Trib says the latest round of layoffs are due to the Art Institute’s “massive budget deficit” resulting from endowment losses of the type that have also been experienced by major U.S. museums such as the Getty in Los Angeles and the Met in New York.
Further on Christopher’s post from this morning, here’s more info on the Art Institute layoffs, from the Chicago Tribune:
“The Art Institute of Chicago has laid off 22 employees, or 3 percent of its staff, as part of a larger series of cost-cutting measures.
Spokeswoman Erin Hogan said Friday that the cuts were made across the board and take effect immediately. Employees were notified Thursday.
“Of course we did everything we could to not go to this point,” Hogan said. “All departments have for months been reducing their operating budgets.”
Hogan added that new Modern Wing, which opened last month, “has been incredibly successful and it’s in part due to the success of the building that the cuts were not deeper.”
In a statement issued Friday, the Art Institute said its other cost-cutting measures include a voluntary 10 percent pay cut for the director, a weeklong unpaid furlough for employees and a salary freeze. Public research hours at the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries will also be reduced, the statement said.”