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Science Museum cuts staff by 39% due to pandemic

According to a release, the announcement came Tuesday that it will open as a "smaller museum" with limited operating hours for members, beginning in late August.
Science Museum of Minnesota. Credit: Science Museum of Minnesota

ST PAUL, Minn. — The Science Museum of Minnesota announced it will be reducing its staff by 39%, impacting 158 employees, as the museum aims to reopen its doors later this summer.

According to a press release, the announcement came Tuesday that it will open as a "smaller museum" with limited operating hours for members, beginning in late August.

"The year ahead promises to be very challenging from a revenue perspective. Based on audience research and learning from arts and culture colleagues around the world, the museum projects 50-75% lower attendance for the foreseeable future, and a likely loss of an additional $20M of revenue during fiscal year 2021," the release says. "While the museum will access available debt and reserves to cover these anticipated losses, it cannot weather these challenges without a significant reduction to the size of the organization."

The museum closed back in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and  officials say the closure has resulted in millions of dollars in lost visitor-related revenue, as well as putting work within the museum on hold, temporarily halting scientific research, exhibit development and production for museums around the world.

"The Science Museum remains firmly committed to its work at the intersection of science, equity, and education at a time when that work has never been more important," the release reads. "It is devastating to lose talented and dedicated employees who contributed so much to the Science Museum’s success and impact over the years, especially at a time that is already so personally challenging. These incredibly difficult decisions reflect the challenges of moving forward as a cultural organization amid the uncertainty of COVID-19, and the entire museum community - its staff, volunteers, partners, and the people it serves throughout the state and around the nation - will feel these losses deeply."

The museum is targeting a late-August reopening for members, but the experience will be a little different. Not only will fewer people be allowed inside the building, but some of the programs have been delayed or discontinued.

"However, most museum favorites will be back, such as the dinosaurs, the mummy, Sportsology, giant screen movies in the Omnitheater, and the RACE exhibition, along with much needed virtual education programs, scientific research, and new ways to engage with scientists, learning resources, and museum experiences," the release says.

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