Metropolitan Museum to Scale Back Retail

Under pressure to reduce expenses, New York’s Metropolitan Museum will close 15 of satellite shops nationwide. The museum has also put in place a hiring freeze, revised its procurement policies, and cut back on travel and use of temporary help.

A letter from chairman James R. Houghton posted earlier this month on the organization’s Website said the Met is assessing all of its publications, exhibition programs, and administrative services to try to lower reduce costs.

Thanks to the economic downturn, Houghton said, the museum’s membership renewals, corporate and private philanthropy, visitorship, as well as the Met’s restaurant and merchandising business have fallen.

“Most importantly, our endowment, income from which supplies approximately 30% of the Museum’s annual operating revenue, has lost significant value since the beginning of the current fiscal year,” he noted. The institution estimates that the endowment’s value has decreased 25% since June 30, 2008.

With fewer stores, the Metropolitan will focus merchandising efforts on its Web store and catalog. According to its data card, the Met’s gift catalog has 98,169 12-month buyers.