Update: The Seaport Museum “temporarily” laid-off another twelve staff members on Monday afternoon.
More bad news from the South Street Seaport. Last week the Seaport Museum laid off the captain of the schooner Pioneer, as well a marine educator and several others. We have posted previously about the museum’s so far unsuccessful attempts to sell historic vessels to bridge budget shortfalls. The schooner Lettie Howard, the windjammer Peking, as well as the tug Helen McAllister and the lighter Marion M. are reported to be for sale. The schooner Pioneer is supported by an active group of volunteers but is often inactive for lack of paying passengers. The museum, which has been referred to as the best kept secret in New York, has often not been effective in marketing its activities.
Seaport Museum Struggles to Stay Afloat
The museum’s tax returns show the museum had an operating deficit of over $1 million in 2008, but turned a small operating profit in 2009. The numbers for 2010 are not yet available.
But several sources familiar with the museum’s situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the institution’s financial position is dire. While board members have lent the museum millions of dollars so it can continue to operate, the museum does not have enough money to order basic supplies or maintain its fleet of historic vessels, which is deteriorating, the sources said.
“The place is really tapped out,” one of the sources said. “It’s a barely functioning organization.”
The museum has also failed to pay students who were promised stipends for participating in after school programs.