Mystic Seaport Museum will lay off a large portion of its staff April 1 in an effort to weather the impact of COVID-19.
The maritime museum closed its doors and suspended all classes, programs and events on March 13. At that time, they had hoped to reopen March 30. But as coronavirus cases in Connecticut rise, it’s unclear exactly when the museum will be able to welcome visitors again.
As a result, Mystic Seaport Museum will lay off 199 employees, including 68 full-time staff. Mystic Seaport spokesman Dan McFadden said the layoffs will affect every department at the museum.
“You know our staff is one of our greatest assets,” said McFadden. “They all have a unique skill set. We care a lot about them, and they work really, really hard. Having to say goodbye to them, temporarily as it may be, is really difficult for everyone.”
In a letter to the Connecticut Department of Labor, Mystic Seaport human resources director Jeanne Gade wrote that the layoffs were necessary “due to the unforeseen circumstances of a loss of business due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.”
McFadden said the museum made major cuts to the budget before turning to layoffs.
“We cut everything we could before we had to turn to reducing our workforce,” said McFadden. “We’ve reduced every expense that we can. Anything that was optional, or something we normally do but we didn’t need to do now, we cut.”
Mystic Seaport Museum will operate with a staff of about 60 who will maintain the museum until it’s ready to reopen.
“The museum’s closure is to the public right now, and it’s temporary. We will reopen, we are not closing for good, Mystic Seaport Museum will be back. So, when we are given the green light, we are going to work as fast as we can to reconstitute our staff.”
McFadden said the museum will maintain health insurance coverage for all laid-off employees through the month of April.