Following on the heels of most of Chicago's major cultural institutions during the global pandemic, the Art Institute of Chicago this week laid off staff in what it called a necessary adjustment to a new reality and still uncertain future.
"The Art Institute of Chicago has informed staff of a reduction in force affecting 51 individuals, or just over 8% of our team," Executive Director of Public Affairs Kati Murphy said in a statement. "This difficult decision was made in response to a reduction in museum visitors and changes to our internal structure that reflect the evolving needs of our institution and our community moving forward."© Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Chicago Flyhouse owner Mark Witteveen, left, puts Chicago flag mask on a lion outside the Art Institute on April 30, 2020.
The museum has been closed since mid-March and has spoken of the tentative possibility of reopening by the end of July, depending on how Chicago does at keeping the spread of COVID-19 to a minimum as it enters the fourth phase of its five-stage reopening plan. But whenever the Art Institute opens back up, city rules will limit attendance to 25% of capacity, and the encyclopedic Michigan Avenue museum is bracing for major revenue shortfalls.© Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Mark Witteveen, owner of The Chicago Flyhouse, places a city of Chicago flag mask on one of the lions outside the Art Institute on April 30, 2020.
The cuts were nearly museumwide, Murphy said.
"We are sad to be losing the skills and contributions of a number of valued colleagues," she said. "During these challenging times, we must transform our operations, giving us little choice but to make reductions in nearly all of our departments."
The layoffs were completed Friday, the museum said.
Two weeks earlier, the Field Museum of Natural History told the public of its own layoffs in a June 12 letter from CEO Richard Lariviere. The museum laid off 27 staffers, informed another 17 their "terms will not be renewed" upon expiration in the coming months and eliminated 27 open positions. It furloughed 56 employees, but, Lariviere said, "We hope to bring back the majority of our 56 furloughed employees within six months."© JoseM. Osorio / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS A large Chicago flag mask is installed on the Picasso in Daley Plaza by Mark Witteveen, owner of The Chicago Flyhouse.
Also cutting staff have been Adler Planetarium, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry, among others.
Twitter @StevenKJohnson© Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS The Art Institute along Adams Street on June 18, 2020.
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