The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) has eliminated 8% of its staff positions and announced that it is planning to reduce its public hours to 11 am to 5 pm on Wednesday through Sunday.
A statement from the museum notes that “In order to move towards a sustainable future, the DMA has taken difficult but necessary steps to realign our programs, operations and budget to ensure the Museum can continue to serve our communities for generations to come. After careful review of every aspect of the Museum’s operations, we have made these difficult decisions… like many nonprofit arts organizations in Dallas and around the country, the DMA must adjust to new realities in a post-pandemic world, including rising costs, expiration of government funding, and audiences not yet returning to pre-pandemic levels.”
The museum also mentioned that in recent years it has taken a number of steps to adjust its budget in response to ongoing economic challenges. This has included reorganizing staff and operations with a focus on earned revenue, decreasing operating costs, implementing hiring freezes, and presenting permanent collection exhibitions, such as Movement: The Legacy of Kineticism and Picasso’s Muses: Between Inspiration and Obsession.
Beginning Friday, December 1, the DMA will implement new public hours. The museum indicates that it has decided on the adjusted hours after assessing attendance patterns and their impact on revenue, combined with prioritizing popular programs. The major change to come is that the museum will now be closed to the public on Tuesdays (instead of being open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and will eliminate its weekly Friday evening hours (currently 9 p.m.). The institution will continue its long-running Late Night event, when it is open until 11 p.m., however rather than occurring every month it will take place a few times a year. Additionally, even though the museum will be closed to the public on Tuesdays, it will continue to offer school tours on those days, as a part of its partnership with Dallas ISD.
The museum has not announced any plans to change its admission fees and policies; as of now, general admission will remain free, parking will remain at $20, and select special exhibitions will be individually considered, with unique tickets and pricing.
Regarding staff, as of yesterday, October 24, 20 DMA employees were laid off and some positions were converted from full-time to part-time. The museum, citing privacy concerns, has not released specific information about who was affected, but their statement did indicate that the layoffs affected “nearly all departments.” The museum shared that employees who were laid off will receive between two and 20 weeks of severance pay, based on the length of time they were with the institution, and will retain healthcare benefits for three months. The museum is also providing access to job search tools and resources.
Though the museum’s statement did not draw a direct connection between these changes and its plans to redesign its current building, the decision to reduce hours and eliminate staff positions comes just months after its selection of a Madrid-based architecture firm, Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos, to undertake the major project. According to the project website, the estimated cost is $150-$175 million. In the process of selecting the firm, following the initial call for proposals, the museum selected six finalists and paid them each $50,000, and also up to $10,000 for expenses.
The news of these budget-reducing measures additionally comes on the heels of an announcement that the museum’s recent TWO X TWO for AIDS and Art benefit dinner and auction raised $7.6 million, the proceeds of which are split between amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research (formerly the American Foundation for AIDS Research), and the DMA. The funds specifically support amfAR’s research related to ending the global AIDS epidemic and the DMA’s acquisition of contemporary art.
Considering the future financial outlook for the museum, the DMA stated, “We are confident that our operations are now in alignment with achievable revenue goals. At this moment, we do not expect to make other changes or further staff reductions and will continue to monitor, along with the rest of our industry.”
Correction October 28, 2023: This article has been updated to reflect that Late Night events will take place a few times a year rather than once a month.