Speed Reads

night at the museum

Most American museums have closed for coronavirus. A third may never reopen.

Museums provide the absolute opposite of social distancing, so as COVID-19 continues to spread, they've been some of the first institutions to close their doors. That quickly became a problem for museums that rely on getting people through their doors to survive, leading experts to fear some may never open again, The New York Times reports.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, for one, is planning for a $100 million shortfall and expects to be closed until July, it said in a letter reported by the Times. It has an annual operating budget of $320 million and an endowment that has fallen to about $3.3 billion, but is still weighing possible furloughs, layoffs and voluntary retirements and preparing to restructure its spending for lower visitor rates once the museum does reopen.

Smaller museums without all those resources will undoubtedly be hit harder. "Many museums are using any reserves they have to get through the next month," Laura Lott, the president and chief executive of the American Alliance of Museums, told the Times. About three-quarters of museums in the U.S. have closed over COVID-19 concerns, and if they can't reopen soon, a third of them said they wouldn't at all.

Read more about coronavirus' affect on museums at The New York Times.