No Tours and Layoffs: It’s Dire Times for the Tenement Museum

Posted on: July 24th, 2020 at 5:01 am by

The Tenement Museum is barely treading water during these pandemic times.

The 76 “temporary” furloughs of front-facing, part-time hourly staff on March 13 are now permanent. The organization applied for and received a Paycheck Protection Program loan under the CARES Act; it was put towards recalling the 40 furloughed full-time staff, and is scheduled to run out by September 20. The museum president also took a 99% salary reduction; additional salary reductions for senior staff are currently being considered.

Museum tours are also closed for the foreseeable future, which will result in an additional 50% budget reduction for the coming year.

The museum was unable to physically hold their annual gala, and in the absence of in-person ticket sales and gift shop purchases, resorted to online campaigning (Facebook) for fundraising efforts. A fundraiser earlier this year during the COVID-19 shutdown raised over $30,000.

The Tenement Museum also tried to create more of a virtual footprint with “Experience the Museum at Home” on their website.

“For the past several months we have focused on pivoting our visitor model to digital platforms, developing alternative revenue streams, and growing philanthropy with the goal of ensuring the institution’s long-term survival and retaining as many full-time staff members as possible,” museum President Morris Vogel said in a press release.

Founded in 1988, the Tenement Museum is an affiliate site of the National Park Service, and usually sees more than 280,000 visitors a year. It consists of the museum itself at 97 Orchard Street and its educational facility up the block at 103 Orchard.

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