Home Museum institution The Met will pay museum guards more due to Covid-related shortages

The Met will pay museum guards more due to Covid-related shortages

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As the Omicron variant has spread in recent weeks, other museums have experienced staff shortages due to illness. For example, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington is closed until the end of the month, and its National Museum of Natural History was briefly closed due to a staff shortage in visitor services, but has now reopened.

In New York, where a record number of Covid-19 cases have been reported, the Met has reduced its reception capacity. Anne Canty, spokeswoman for the American Museum of Natural History, said its galleries remained open with the exception of the museum’s Butterfly Conservatory, which has been closed for several weeks due to a shortage of specialist staff and volunteers.

Amanda Hicks, spokeswoman for the Museum of Modern Art, said while some staff were absent due to the impact of Covid, no galleries had closed.

Until recent weeks, the number of galleries closed at the Met on Fifth Avenue was more modest, although closing one section might disappoint a visitor. Dan Nazzaro, for example, drove to the museum from Parsippany, NJ, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when two European sculpture and decorative arts galleries were closed, as well as several in the American wing.

Nazzaro said he went specifically to see a gallery in the American Wing displaying an 18th-century cabriole-legged Massachusetts couch and other furniture. But that day it was cordoned off with a rope and a sign that said ‘temporarily closed’. Looking at the items inside, Nazzaro said he wishes the museum had used its website to list gallery closings in real time.

Museum officials said they were confident Met staff, visitors and the Met collection remained safe, even as staff shortages deepened in early January. Regina Lombardo, the Met’s security chief, said in an interview that the museum determined it was more efficient to assign guards to patrol and move them from place to place, sometimes on base. information from cameras, than always keeping them in fixed positions. posts.

But a larger staff was still in order, museum officials said, although fewer guards appeared to be calling in sick recently. The Met said it had just hired seven new guards and planned to hire more. Lombardo said she thinks the pay raise will help accomplish that, adding, “We’re fishing in a bigger pond.”