Science Museum, Children's Museum laying off majority of employees in anticipation of 3-month closure

The Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota Children’s Museum, both located in St. Paul, are temporarily laying off the majority of their employees in anticipation of a three-month-long closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Science Museum announced Tuesday it is laying off more than 400 employees—87 percent of its workforce—as it shifts to online-only programming during the pandemic. The layoffs take effect on April 2. 

The museum temporarily closed to the public on March 13 following recommendations issued by Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

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“Closing was the right decision for the health and safety of our employees, volunteers and visitors, but it is creating a financial hardship during our busiest time of the year,” CEO Alison Brown said in a statement. “Temporarily laying off employees was a tough decision. It is unfortunately necessary as we consider the long-term viability of the museum.”

Brown said the museum is operating off a 12-week closure plan, but are planning for it to last even longer if need be. 

During the pandemic, the museum is offering online programming in lieu of its outreach programs and field trips. STEM resources and learning programs will be available for teachers and families on the museum’s website and new content will be added daily. 

The Minnesota Children’s Museum is laying off 75 percent of its employees starting March 29. Remaining employees will have reduced salaries and hours. 

The museum’s president, Diane Krizan, said she is taking a 75 percent pay reduction as well. 

The museum is also suspending exhibit development and production, halting its programs for under-resourced families and suspending its volunteer programs. 

“The closure comes during our busiest attendance season, making the impact all the more severe. We are projecting that a 12-week closure will diminish the organization’s income from March through June by more than $2 million,” Krizan said in a statement. “We are taking immediate steps to put the organization in the best position possible to re-open and continue our mission of sparking children’s learning through play.” 

Like the Science Museum, the Children’s Museum is also shifting to offering programming and resources online. Play-at-home tips and resources about how play can help families cope during times of stress are available on the museum’s website