BROKE-LYN MUSEUM! Instituion slashes salaries and orders unpaid leaves to fill budget hole

Brooklyn Museum eliminates Friday night hours
The Brooklyn Paper / Sarah Portlock

The cash-strapped Brooklyn Museum quietly announced a bevy of emergency measures including cancelling a major art exhibition, furloughing all staff, slashing salaries and offering buyouts to its 281 full-time employees.

The Museum, citing a $2.3-million loss in aid from city government over the past three years, announced in a rare Saturday press release that all staff must take one unpaid week of vacation this summer, and employees making more than $60,000 will see their salaries reduced.

The museum has also banned all staff travel.

Though the press release said the cuts were designed to “minimize the impact on our visitors,” they will be felt nonetheless; the long-planned September exhibit, “Joint Venture: Donald Saaf and the Art of Collaboration,” which would have included works by startists Robert Rauschenberg and Roy Lichtenstein, has been canned.

More exhibits could be scrubbed, warned the Museum in its statement, which also said that the annual operating budget is $29 million a year. If that’s the case, the reduction in city funds over the past three years amounts to just over two percent. The city will still provide $7.36 million in funding in the next fiscal year — though that’s down from $9.1 million this year.

The art world hasn’t seen cuts like this since Vincent Van Gogh lopped off his ear, but museum officials didn’t show any signs of pain in a prepared statement.

“These measures have been carefully considered … to allow the Museum to provide the same degree of access and quality of experience to our public, while maintaining our financial stability” said Arnold Lehman, the Brooklyn Museum’s director.

The reductions are the second thrust of a campaign to balance the Museum’s troubled budget. Last month, the museum hiked its suggested donation from $8 to $10.