Last month the National Gallery of Art laid off its retail department, more than two dozen employees.
The museum’s retail operations will be outsourced to Event Network, a contractor that handles retail for over 90 museums throughout the country. Some of the laid off employees will be able to be rehired at their old jobs through Event Network. However, some expressed fears that these jobs will have less pay and fewer hours.
One former employee told Hyperallergic, “the more a bunch of us who looked, the more we realized, some of these jobs aren’t full time. They’re not anywhere close to what we were getting with our federal benefits.”
Thirteen of the laid off workers have been offered jobs through Event Network. However, six of those positions are part-time, and the employees who take them will have fewer hours than before the lay-offs.
The decision to outsource these jobs represents a change in the National Gallery of Art’s strategy. The museum’s retail shops have suffered six-figure losses in nine of the last ten years. The gallery plans to implement a new retail strategy that is focused on mobile shopping.
Changes in the shops were apparent even before the layoffs. The museum had reduced the square footage over time, some space was converted into gallery space, and management jobs were allowed to lapse. Employees were offered smaller raises, and more positions became part-time. However, employees were reassured by management that their jobs would not be outsourced.
“These used to be good jobs where you could support your families and have medical benefits for your kids. These were decent jobs, but they were chipped away at over time,” said a former National Gallery employee.