Here’s how Tucson Museum of Art has stay afloat during the pandemic

Business News | 14 Mar |

The pandemic has caused many museums to consider selling their art to make up for outstanding bills, but for the Tucson Museum of Art (TMA), that was not on the list of considerations.

The famous Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is considering selling its art to cover costs as it falls short of $150 million in revenue, according to an NPR article.


READ ALSO: Phoenix Art Museum announces new visitor policies for October re-opening


“A spokesperson from the Met said the museum has still not looked into which pieces would be up for auction if it decides to take advantage of the new deaccessioning rules,” said NPR.

According to NPR, the art museum has not made a final decision about selling its artwork.

But for the Tucson Museum of Art, located in downtown Tucson, selling its art was never something to consider.

The chief development officer of TMA, Andrea Dillenburg, has been with the museum for 18 months and said like many other businesses, they were also struggling at the start of the pandemic but never considered selling art pieces.

“Like other cultural organizations, the Tucson Museum of Art closed on March 17, 2020.  The early challenges resulted in the closing down of operations, profound staff reduction, and significant loss of income,” Dillenburg said.

The museum found other ways to help it stay afloat during the pandemic.

According to Dillenburg, the museum made immediate expense reductions, received government and private assistance grants. The museum is also “operating on dollars raised by a successful board matching fund campaign; earned income from admissions, store purchases, classes, and café sales; and memberships, grants, and individual giving.”

With the lifting of local and state restrictions, the museum has slowly opened its doors to the public.

TMA Chief of Staff Cami Cotton said after being closed for five months it has taken much change and planning to start operating again.

“We now limit the number of attendees into our galleries and have ‘windows’ where guests arrive and leave.  The museum is a very safe place to come as we have galleries of non-touchable items,” said Cotton.

According to Cotton, it was financially hard for the museum, especially for staff.

“We had to lay staff off except for seven staff members and only two of these were full time,” said Cotton. “We have since been able to hire most back, but we still are not where we were before the pandemic.”

Carlisa Parra is an 18-year-old artist who recently visited the Tucson Museum of Art in February.

According to Parra, the only thing that was different in the museum was the social distancing guidelines.

“The only real difference was the whole social distancing, the cafe was completely closed and there weren’t many people, it was quite empty,” Parra said.

Parra said it is a shame that many museums are struggling to survive and thinks the government “should be concerned and take more action to provide the necessary needs to support in preserving these valuable and historical pieces.”

According to Dillenburg, the museum estimates that it will take three years to recover from the negative impact of the pandemic and financial fallout of 2020.

The museum is open with only a 30% attendance capacity. Time ticket reservations are required and can be purchased online. To learn more about the Tucson Museum of Art go to www.tucsonmuseumofart.com.

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