Philadelphia’s Jewish Museum Furloughs Staff

Museum workers across the country have been hit with massive waves of layoffs and pay cuts in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Now, staff at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia are also facing furlough.

The museum recently furloughed about two-thirds of its employees. This follows salary cuts, which the museum had implemented shortly after the coronavirus outbreak. Leave is temporary; however, staff will not be paid during this time.

The National Museum of American Jewish History was particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak as the museum had filed for bankruptcy two weeks before closing its doors. Interim CEO Misha Galperin told WHYY that the museum’s bankruptcy was not due to inability to function, but rather because of debt accrued from the costs of its building near Independence Hall. The museum holds about $30 million in debt. The museum’s bankruptcy means that it is ineligible for emergency federal aid. Such aid, like the Paycheck Protection Program, had allowed the Battleship New Jersey to rehire some furloughed employees earlier this week.

Galperin described the pandemic as a big deal. “It could have provided 2 ½ months of operating expenses. Without it, we have to cut back, furlough staff, and hopefully weather the rest of the pandemic and bankruptcy,” he said.

The museum expects to emerge from bankruptcy within six months.