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Letter from Erika: Working Together in Uncertain Times

March 27, 2020 3:46 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

Dear Members of the MANY Museum Community,

I hope all who are reading this are well, that your families are well, and that you are taking precautionary measures to remain healthy and safe. 

When we began to prepare the 2019 annual report that will be included in the March 30 MANY newsletter, there was no way to foresee where we are today. Every museum in New York is closed, thousands of staff have already been laid off, and thousands more will follow. A Washington DC source estimated that as many as 30% of museums across the nation may remain permanently closed. That is a statistic that we are working hard to reduce with advocacy, information, and support for the field. If you have not looked at the resource pages of our website, please take a moment and check, there may be something there that can help you make a hard decision easier.

As New Yorkers, we are known for our strength, creativity, persistence and resiliency.  We are not known for quiet patience or living comfortably with uncertainty. We are now learning these things together too quickly for many of us to process well.

MANY's inboxes keep filling with questions from colleagues, public and private funders, and legislators. Some of questions have quantifiable answers such as "How many people who work in museums have been laid off?" We'd like you to help answer this question. Please click here to add your data to the chart. 

We will share your responses widely. 

Other questions like

How long will it take museums to re-open?

How will the impact of museum closures affect the economy next year?

How will museum experiences change once the pandemic passes?

are really not possible for anyone to answer right now. We will use all of MANY's resources to work together and support each other in the coming weeks to find good answers.

The other question colleagues are asking is 

When and where will you hold the 2020 MANY Annual Conference?

I am pleased to be able to announce that we are moving forward with hope and faith that we will all be well, and that the conference will be at the New York State Museum and the Albany Hilton on November, 8, 9, and 10. The Museum and Folk Art Forum will be on November 7.  As we re-construct the conference program we will share the updates on our website. 

MANY staff are working from home. We want to stay connected to you and be here to help as we can. Please join us each Friday at noon for our virtual MANY Meet Ups. We will be collecting questions over the course of the week, and answering them to the best of our ability during the call. We will continue to add to the resource pages on our website, weekly, daily, and hourly when possible. 

MANY is stronger today than ever before with 685 members from every region, budget size, and discipline. We are working hard to identify programs for the fall where museum professionals will be able to come together, understand how we have evolved under the pandemic, and what the future might bring. If you are not yet a member of MANY, we need everyone's voices in the conversation more than ever. Please consider joining MANY and lending your perspective and expertise to the future of New York's museum field. 

I am deeply grateful to those of you who have called to ask me if I am OK— if MANY is OK. Depending on the time of day, which birds are perched on the sugar maple outside my window, or our Governor's latest press conference, I may reply that I am fine, I am scared, I have faith, or that I am angry at those who put politics before humanity.


With thanks for all of your patience and support as we move forward together. 

Erika Sanger, Executive Director

The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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