Museums with New Buildings or Renovations Feel the Pinch Even Harder

At the beginning, it was just a trickle of museums suffering from the sudden onslaught of financial panic, but now it’s quickly become the norm. Robin Pogrebin has a great story, “Museum Growth Meets Hard Times,” which looks at the current state of museums who either built fancy new digs while things were good, or expanded with new wings and renovations, and where they’re at now. In short, it’s a story of what’s become the new regular fixture of the museum industry: layoffs, cutbacks, fewer visitors, and less corporate donations. The Newseum, with their gorgeous, newly-constructed museum in DC (which we were blown away by this summer), has been hit particularly hard and are having to make changes immediately. And all of the Smithsonian museums are trying to figure out how to make ends meet when they can’t pull out the standard trick of raising ticket prices by a buck or two:

The museum’s hopes hinge on spending in its shops and cafes, given that the institution must raise $8 million to $10 million in operating expenses each year. “Will they continue to spend and buy food and buy gifts and buy souvenirs?” [museum director Brent D. Glass] said. “That’s what’s unknown right now.”

No word on how well their Smithsonian Collection furniture is selling this holiday season at the malls. For their sake, here’s to hoping you’re all buying ottomans.

Also, in semi-related-because-it’s-about-museums news, Laurene von Klan has been let go from Chicago’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The reason: she wasn’t bringing in enough visitors and money, both of which the Lincoln Park museum needs desperately right now.