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    Saint Louis Art Museum offers more buyouts

    Date: 16 Apr 2009 | | Views: 3076

    Source: Louis Business Journal,by Kelsey Volkmann

    The Saint Louis Art Museum has offered a second round of early retirement offers and implemented other cost-cutting measures in an effort to save $1.5 million.

    The museum said Wednesday it faces a variety of challenges in this recession, including a decline in revenue from the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District, reduced funding from its endowment, lower levels of annual giving, lower income from its shop and restaurant, depressed consumer spending and a drop in attendance due to the closure of the Interstate 64 and Hampton Avenue overpass.

    The institution’s endowment has suffered a loss of nearly 30 percent in the past six months to $63.6 million as of Feb. 28, down from $87 million as of Aug. 31. “We rely less on our endowment than some of our peer institutions across the country,” John Weil, president of the museum’s board of commissioners, said in a statement. “It is none-the-less a significant source of operating revenue.”

    So the museum, which employs 179 full-time workers and 286 employees overall, has offered a second voluntary retirement incentive package to 19 staff members eligible for full or early retirement. This comes after another early retirement offer last fall, when 12 workers accepted the offer.

    The museum will leave some vacant positions unfilled, eliminate all but essential travel and cut back on printed materials.

    Still, the board and staff reaffirmed their commitment to the museum’s planned $125 million expansion in Forest Park and anticipate breaking ground by the end of this year. Last fall, the board announced a delay in its planned 2008 groundbreaking for the project due to volatility in the short-term credit markets.

    The expansion will be paid for with funds raised through private philanthropy, and “to further ensure a stable future, more than $30 million of our initial $125 million capital campaign goal will be added to the Museum’s endowment,” Weil said.

    The Saint Louis Art Museum houses more than 30,000 works of art.

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