Indianapolis Museum of Art lays off 11 percent of staff

Indianapolis Museum of Art (file photo from the museum's website)

The Indianapolis Museum of Art announced nearly two-dozen layoffs Monday amid weaker endowment projections. The move is part of a restructuring plan that reduces personnel by 11 percent.

The IMA said eight open positions would not be filled, while 19 full-time positions and two part-time positions were eliminated across all departments. The museum said it was offering severance packages and outplacement services to the employees who lost their jobs Monday.

This isn't the first time museum employees have seen layoffs. The IMA reduced its staff by about 10 percent in February 2009 and froze employee salaries through 2010. It also forced its staff to undergo a weeklong furlough in 2009.

The museum says it's putting a larger emphasis on donated and earned revenue as it seeks to reduce its dependence on its $326 million endowment. The IMA can use $203 million of that for operating expenses.

As one of the reasons for the layoffs, the IMA cites investment managers who advise nonprofits to be more conservative in their earnings projections.

In the long term, the IMA is going after a larger local and regional audience, with a focus on new programs to "enrich the visitor experience." Plans to relocate the welcome desk to the Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion and a shift in training for the Gallery Guards to become Gallery Guides are meant to create a more welcoming atmosphere, the IMA said.

A Matisse exhibition planned for the fall is expected to attract a large audience, and the IMA says other strategies to increase membership and revenues will be announced soon.

"These are difficult changes, but it is imperative that we reduce our reliance on the endowment so future generations can benefit from it," said Director and CEO Dr. Charles L. Venable. "In my opinion, endowments ideally should not be used to support more than 50% of operations as a rule with the other half being supported through donations and earned revenue. It pains me greatly that we have to make staffing reductions at this juncture, but it was clear that they were necessary. The IMA staff is very talented and the Board and I are grateful for the contributions of those who are leaving their employment at the IMA today, and we wish them well."

Indianapolis Museum of Art