Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Lays Off 45

COVID-19 hits yet another local institution

Even as restaurants and breweries reopen across New Mexico, museums and cultural institutions continue to struggle with closures and, in the worst cases, layoffs. First they came to Meow Wolf (which lost over 200 employees), then to the Lensic Performing Arts Center (which laid off half its staff) and, as of earlier this week, to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum.

"We did let go of 45 employees across all departments," Communications Manager Micaela Hester tells SFR. "It was definitely COVID, and we've been hit hard like most of our peers have."

Hester says the layoffs became inevitable as the museum lost its earned revenue. Overall, she says, the O'Keeffe had planned on earned revenue of roughly
$5 million this year, "but now we've had to shrink that down to one-and-a-quarter-million."

Though the O'Keeffe is a privately owned museum, as New Mexico prepares to allow movie theaters and bars to reopen soon, even state-run museums continue to have no clear roadmap. Even if they did, however, Hester says, the O'Keeffe is still working toward its own standard for new best practices.

"We are in the process of planning to reopen and of how we fold in the COVID Safe Practices, and we're doing surveys," she says. "If you go to our website, you can take a survey about your safety expectations, but the bottom line is, we're going to reopen when we feel we can safely do it."

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