‘This Is a Different Kind of Stress’: U.S. Government Shutdown Leaves Many Arts Workers Without Paychecks
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‘This Is a Different Kind of Stress’: U.S. Government Shutdown Leaves Many Arts Workers Without Paychecks

The Smithsonian Institution. COURTESY SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION The longest government shutdown in U.S. history has forced arts museums in Washington, D.C.—and beyond—to close for extended periods of time. The Smithsonian museums, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the National Portrait Gallery, and the National Gallery of Art are among those that have been forced to shutter this month, with some exhibitions at these institutions going off view without any visitors during their final days. But museum employees have been forced to bear the brunt of the shutdown as well. To better understand the effects of the shutdown on workers at these institutions, ARTnews spoke to Smithsonian employees about how they are making ends meet without a steady paycheck. Linda Thompson, the Smithsonian Institution’s chief spokesperson, is one of around 800 employees exempt from the furlough. (Many of those employees, she explained, are zoo workers who need to care for animals throughout the shutdown.) “We’re furloughed, but we’re expected to come to work,” she told ARTnews . When everyone receives backpay, Thompson said, she will get the wages she is owed for the time spent working during the shutdown. But some employees have been out of work entirely, and […]

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