National Building Museum Announces Layoffs

Shortly after furloughing much of its staff, D.C’s National Building Museum announced that nearly two-thirds of its employees will be permanently laid off starting June 1.

Forty-two positions will be eliminated, including twenty-three administrative positions and nineteen hourly visitors services roles. After these cuts, the museum will consist of just eighteen staff members on partial furlough and two employees working on grant-based projects. Administrators cite lost revenue due to the coronavirus outbreak as the reason for these cuts.

These lay offs come after the museum had laid of eight percent of its staff last February. Seven staff members were let go then because of reduced revenue during the extensive renovations to the museum’s ceramic floor and other financial challenges.

In a statement about the most recent lay-offs, the museum said, “The challenge was a difficult one: balancing the need to retain sufficient financial resources for reopening against the need to have adequate staff on board in order to reopen. Every scenario required a substantial reduction in force, along with an adjustment to the museum’s scope of work.”

The coronavirus outbreak has also pushed back the opening of the museum’s summer exhibition Shakespeare’s Playhouse. This exhibit, which included construction of an enclosed stage inspired by Elizabethan theaters in the museum’s Great Hall and performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, will now open in July 2021.

Administration plans to reopen the National Building Museum as soon as possible. Currently, the museum is finishing recent additions, such as a new visitor center and a new exhibit MASS Design Group: Justice Is Beauty, to be debuted when the museum is able to reopen.