A newspaper article from Friday talks about hard times at one of my favorite museums: Exploratorium cuts 18% of staff as attendance lags. It seems that they are losing their big financial bet on pulling in lots of tourist dollars by moving to a new waterfront location (from the lovely old Palace of Fine Arts from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition).
I’ve not been to see the new Exploratorium yet, which is supposedly 3 times the size of the old one. It’s gotten good reviews (the old favorite exhibits are still there and they have new ones), but people are complaining about the increase in price (from $15 to $25, if I’m reading the complaints right). The increase in price may have something to do with the lower-than-expected attendance.
It worries me that they are reducing their staff already—and I’m curious which staff they are getting rid of. If they are losing the executives who did poor financial planning for the move, it might be a good thing. If they are losing the staff who design, build, and maintain the exhibits, it could be a rapid downward spiral. Knowing how most organizations work, they’re probably keeping incompetent executives and firing those who do the real work.
I suppose I’d better make plans to visit the Exploratorium this winter (on a school day, to minimize crowding), lest the museum suddenly discover they’ve lost even more money and close completely.