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Entertainment & Arts

Broad museum lays off 130 in visitor services and retail because of coronavirus

A view of the Broad museum in 2017
A view of the Broad museum in 2017.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

The Broad will lay off one full-time and 129 part-time employees, including retail workers and public-facing visitor services staff, starting Friday as part of the museum’s extended coronavirus-related closure.

When the Broad might reopen remains unclear. “We are hopeful for a July reopening,” said a spokesperson via email, “though public health officials will ultimately determine the date.”

But even when the museum does reopen, “daily operations will change dramatically,” read a statement issued by the museum on the layoffs. Social distancing and sanitation measures will likely mean changes to operations and, as a result, it will affect “future staffing needs dramatically and unavoidably for a considerable period of time.”

An email sent to the affected staff on Monday evening by museum director Joanne Heyler and deputy director Stacy Lieberman said “the realities of COVID-19 are becoming clearer.”

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“Once the immediate health crisis levels off, a long road of gradual reopening of every facet of normal life lies ahead, and returning the Broad to the bustling, busy museum it was just over a month ago is going to take much longer than originally anticipated,” the note said.

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All laid-off employees will receive a week of extra pay. Those with tenures of six months or longer will receive additional payouts.

One of the affected visitor associates, who preferred to remain anonymous so as not to jeopardize future employment opportunities at the museum, said he had held out hope that layoffs might be averted.

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“Seems like mostly everyone was thinking the museum could ride this whole thing out when considering who owns the museum,” he said, in reference to Eli Broad, the museum’s billionaire founder. “Everyone is totally bummed and extremely disappointed. Some are crying.”

The layoffs at the Broad follow a wave of layoffs at other art institutions, including L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art, across the street, which laid off 97-part-time employees late last month, followed by furloughs and paycuts for the remaining full-time employees. The Hammer Museum cut 150 part-time student workers when the severity of the crisis became clear in late March.

In San Francisco, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art laid off or furloughed more than 300 employees and the museum’s management team took pay cuts.

The curatorial staff and management team at the Broad will remain in place. And a museum spokesperson said there were currently no plans for pay cuts or reduce hours for remaining staff.

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