Worcester Business Journal

May 11, 2020

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wbjournal.com | May 11, 2020 | Worcester Business Journal 17 T H E D I G I T A L F U T U R E F O C U S W Central Mass. museums' financials Program service Total revenue, Fiscal Museum Employees revenue including donations Expenses 2017 surplus Note: Records are for fiscal 2017, except Discovery Museum employees, which is from fiscal 2018, and Old Sturbridge Village employees, which is from fiscal 2016. Source: U.S. Internal Revenue Service, ProPublica Old Sturbridge Village 256 $6,693,397 $11,756,637 $11,919,642 -$163,005 Worcester Art Museum 237 $913,520 $9,695,254 $11,907,771 -$2,212,517 EcoTarium, Worcester 112 $1,492,806 $6,700,228 $4,965,747 $1,734,481 Discovery Museum, Acton 110 $928,542 $2,732,748 $1,841,437 $891,311 Fitchburg Art Museum 22 $210,939 $980,429 $1,498,341 -$517,912 duct traveling workshops at area schools, "that's the kind of stuff we've been doing for years," he added. Elsewhere, the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton hosted a religious his- tory webinar in April. An exhibit on the Cold War planned to run March 20 to May 6 has been postponed to the fall. e EcoTarium normally has animal habitats to show off and a planetarium to help visitors explore far-away worlds, and it typically brings in 25,000 students a year on field trips. e museum has been spending recent weeks finding the best way to interact with would-be visitors remotely. "A lot of it has been about having our staff working to think differently about how we fulfill our mission," said Lucy Hale, the EcoTarium's president and CEO. Budgetary limitations e expected financial hit to museums in general is potentially so great that in mid-April, the Association of Art Muse- um Directors gave implicit permission for museums to sell artwork to help make ends meet – something normally severely frowned upon in the art world. e association said it would tempo- rarily refrain from censuring or sanc- tioning any museum using restricted endowment funds or donations for general operating expenses. Museums may temporarily use proceeds from selling art to pay for expenses associated with caring for their collection. So far, Central Massachusetts muse- ums, aided by the federal $669-billion Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loan program for small businesses and nonprofits, haven't been forced to take such drastic measures. But cultural institutions are still being affected. e Mass Cultural Council reported in mid-April institutions lost more than $264 million in revenue since the pandemic began, with more than half of nearly 700 organizations indicating layoffs, furloughs or similar steps. e Discovery Museum instituted some furloughs and pay cuts until it received its PPP loan. Old Sturbridge Village held off on furloughs until Gov. Charlie Baker extended the closure of non-essential businesses until May 18. Most of the museum's more than 200 employees are temporarily out of work. "Until then, we held out hope that we wouldn't have to," said Tieri. Old Sturbridge Village has to keep farmers on staff though, a unique situation with live animals also applying to the EcoTarium. In the EcoTarium's case, staff working with cat species and otters wear masks and other protective equipment because those animals are believed to be susceptible to the virus. Small budgets have still limited muse- ums nonetheless. e Fitchburg Art Museum's small staff was previously able to only use the internet for more bare-bones purposes, like posting operating hours. "It's new to us, and I think it was new to a lot of museums," Museum Director Nick Capasso said. Local museums say they're somewhat buffered by tending to rely less on ticket and event revenue than their larger counterparts, like the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which has instituted layoffs and other measures. e EcoTarium has had some volun- tary reductions, but its PPP loan and a fundraising campaign are otherwise ex- pected to help it through a few months. Hale, the head of the EcoTarium, and her counterparts are already looking ahead to eventually reopening. "It's really important that our industry survive in whatever way it looks and we get creative in whatever way we serve our population," she said. With acres of outdoor space, the Discovery Museum and Old Sturbridge Village are hopeful they can open sooner for some amenities. But Gordon, the head of the Discovery Museum, isn't sure what a post-pandemic opening will be like, exactly. "e real challenge of planning all of this is the degree of complexity of the situation," Gordon said. "ere are so many variables." The EcoTarium has kept staff in place to care for animals, wearing protective face coverings for otters and others believed to be susecptible to coronavirus. A behind-the- scenes look at Firchburg Art Museum filming a how-to video for making a birdhouse. PHOTO/COURTESY OF FITCHBURG ART MUSEUM PHOTO/COURTESY OF ECOTARIUM

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