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Smithsonian Institution laying off 237 employees

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National Museum of American History

The Smithsonian Institution is laying off 237 employees in a bid to offset the ongoing financial losses caused by closures amid COVID-19.

The Smithsonian, which oversees 19 museums, nine research centres, and the National Zoo, has lost $49 million since it closed in response to the pandemic in March.

The layoffs went into effect on Monday (October 5), the start of the first pay period of the new fiscal year beginning on October 1.

The job cuts are the first permanent staff reductions to be made by the Smithsonian, and affect workers at the institution’s shops, theatres and concessions (via artnet News).

The Smithsonian’s eight cafeterias and cafes, which remain closed, are operated by Restaurant Associates. These staff are currently unaffected, as are the organisation’s 6,300 federal employees.

“We tried to retain as many [employees] as we possibly could,” Ed Howell, head of retail for Smithsonian Enterprises, told the Washington Post.

“But the vision is that this is going to go on for an extended period of time,” added Howell. “Financially, it was a real struggle.”

First permanent staff reductions made by Smithsonian

smithsonian institution
Smithsonian Institution

Just eight of the Smithsonian’s attractions have reopened, including the National Zoo, the National Museum of American History, and the National Portrait Gallery.

Also open are the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Renwick Gallery, and the Udvar-Hazy Center.

The Smithsonian has named Kevin Young as director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), effective from January 11, 2021.

Prior to that, the V&A and the Smithsonian announced that they are shelving a plan to co-curate a gallery at V&A East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London.

Meanwhile, the V&A plans to make 103 retail and visitor experience staff redundant, which amounts to around 10 percent of its overall workforce, due to “the ongoing impact of COVID-19”.

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products also shared an update saying Disney will lay off around 28,000 employees due to the prolonged impact of COVID-19.

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Bea Mitchell

A journalist specialising in entertainment and attractions, Bea loves theme parks (mainly Disney) and is particularly interested in things of a gothic, horror or fantasy nature.

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