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Brooklyn Museum Announces Response to New Economic Reality
Brooklyn Museum Front Entrance. Photo: Justin Van Soest.

BROOKLYN, NY.- The Brooklyn Museum has undertaken a broad range of revenue enhancements and cost-cutting measures to address the current and anticipated financial challenges related to the economic downturn. The FY2010 budget is being developed with stringent cost controls and includes a hiring freeze already in effect, the cancellation of a major exhibition, reducing the number of major exhibitions overall, and a moratorium on staff travel.

Among measures to increase revenues are a recent increase in suggested admissions fees, from $8 to $10 for adults and $6 to $8 for senior and students, a commitment from all Brooklyn Museum Trustees to maintain or increase their financial support, and an enhanced program of traveling exhibition development.

The critical nature of these financial challenges has led the Museum to make a voluntary separation package available to each staff member. Plans are being developed to implement a one-week furlough this summer for all staff members, details to be determined, while the Museum remains open to the public. In addition, all higher-paid non-union staff members will receive pay reductions on a sliding scale.

"These measures have been carefully considered, along with additional means of enhancing revenues, in order to minimize the impact on our visitors and to allow the Museum to continue to provide the same degree of access and quality of experience to our public, while maintaining our financial stability. As with most other cultural organizations throughout the country, the economic downturn has created funding issues that have forced extremely difficult choices. These measures were developed over the past several months and affirmed yesterday evening by the Museum's Board of Trustees at their regularly scheduled meeting," states Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman.

The Brooklyn Museum is one of 34 New York City cultural institutions that comprise the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG): each member is located on City-owned property and receives significant capital and operating support from the City to help meet basic security, maintenance, administration, and energy costs. Several segments of the staff, including security guards, engineers, and art handlers are members of DC37, a union made up of New York City employees.

For the fiscal year 2009, which began on July 1, 2008, the annual operating budget of the Brooklyn Museum is $29 million. Since FY 2008, City operating support to the Brooklyn Museum has been reduced by 32%. The value of these reductions in FY 08, FY 09 and those currently proposed in FY 10 is $2.31 million, and additional cuts are possible. The recent economic downturn has also created a significant loss to the Museum's endowment, which is currently valued at $65 million, down from $93.1 million a year ago, as well as substantial losses in earned and contributed revenues. The Brooklyn Museum, one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country, currently has a staff of 281 full-time and approximately 40 part-time employees.

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