Field Museum Reorganizes Amid Money Woes

Museum is $170 million in debt and plans to cut $5 million from next year's budget

By Tammy Webber
|  Friday, Jul 5, 2013  |  Updated 10:36 AM CDT
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Prehistoric Paintings on Display

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Russian Meteorite on Display at Field Museum

Scientists will study the fragments donated by collector Terry Boudreaux. Rob Elgas reports.

Prehistoric Paintings on Display

A new exhibit at The Field Museum in Chicago, "Scenes of the Stone Ages: The Cave Paintings at Laschaux," lets viewers walk through exact cave replicas of paintings that have never been seen by the public.
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Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History is known for displays such as Sue, the Tyrannosaurus rex.

But it's also one of the world's pre-eminent research centers, with a 25 million-piece collection of plants and animals used to examine everything from genetics to climate change.

Now the museum is setting the scientific world abuzz for another reason: budget problems that are forcing it to cut research staff.

The museum is $170 million in debt and cutting $5 million from next year's budget — the bulk of that from science. That has Field officials fending off talk that its reputation is being damaged.

Field President Richard Lariviere says the museum is poised to recover financially within two years. But some scientists say the cuts in its research operations will be significant.

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