The Smithsonian Institution, the national art and research organization that runs research facilities, the National Zoo and most of the nation’s biggest museums including the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum on the Upper East Side, announced via an internal email on Monday that it was offering all its 6,000 employees voluntary buyouts in an effort to cut costs. The Washington Post reports that the Smithsonian made a similar offer back in 2003 and 240 employees took the buyout.
Seventy percent of the institution’s operating budget is provided by the federal government ($731.4 million in 2009), so presumably the drastic offer stems from drops in endowment, donations and trust fund returns similar to those experienced by public organizations everywhere. Despite the plan to reduce its workforce and operating costs, the SI (the largest network of museums and research centers in the world) is currently expanding, with the National Museum of African American History and Culture slated to open in Washington, D.C. in 2015.
All of which is to say, if you haven’t visited the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum lately, go check it out—their current exhibition on sustainable design is outstanding and a great example of the caliber of shows that big, multidisciplinary organizations like the Smithsonian can put together. (Arforum)