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Nelson-Atkins Statement Regarding Reduction in Force

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art this week took measures to reduce the size of its staff, the result of the debilitating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Nelson-Atkins closed to visitors and all but essential staff on March 14 and reopened on September 12. During that six-month period, the museum lost revenue from event rentals, fundraisers, ticketing, the Rozzelle Court Restaurant, parking fees, and sale of merchandise. Although the museum is now open, attendance is dramatically lower, thus generating less income. At the same time, because of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the museum has been forced to cancel all traveling exhibitions, in-person tours, classes, public programs and festivals—steps that also affect revenue generation and fundraising. As a result, the Nelson-Atkins will need to reduce its budget by 25%, to about $26 million. Those reductions, in turn, necessitate staff reductions by 15%, or 36 positions.

“Any decision to reduce the size of the staff must be the last resort. The staff members of the Nelson-Atkins keep our institution’s mission thriving, and they ensure that the museum is a cultural treasure in Kansas City,” said Richard C. Green, Chair of the Nelson-Atkins Board of Trustees. “Unfortunately, we are not immune to the same forces that businesses and other nonprofit organizations have faced during this difficult year. These steps are being taken to ensure the museum’s long-term sustainability.”

The museum depends on private donations, and supporters have continued to be generous. The museum was successful in securing a Payroll Protection Program loan, and has also worked with long-time donors to reallocate funds that were previously restricted. However, those steps—while important and helpful—were not enough to cover the lost revenue caused by the pandemic-related closure.

“The museum’s mission, to bring art and people together, will prevail,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “Any decision that adversely affects staff is always the most difficult. But while our staff will be smaller and our resources more limited, we are fully committed to providing transformative experiences with the extraordinary art collection that defines this museum.”

For media interested in receiving further information, please contact:

Kathleen Leighton, Manager, Media Relations and Video Production
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art