Adler Planetarium Lays Off 120 Employees During Coronavirus Shutdown

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The Adler Planetarium has laid off 120 employees as the iconic Chicago institution remains closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Adler made the difficult decision to reduce our workforce in order to help the Adler survive and continue to serve Chicago and the world in the post-pandemic future," a spokeswoman for the planetarium said in a statement.

The Adler has continued to pay all full-time and part-time staff since its closure on March 14, the statement continues, adding that all those whose positions were eliminated will receive their standard compensation for 60 days and benefits through the end of July.

Both full- and part-time staff members were impacted by the layoffs, the museum said, which affected all departments in the organization, including the leadership structure. It was not immediately clear specifically which positions were eliminated.

Located on Lake Michigan on the city's Museum Campus, the planetarium draws more than half a million visitors each year - a number undoubtedly slashed by its closure during the pandemic. The institution - the first planetarium in the nation - commemorated its 90th birthday on Tuesday with a virtual celebration.

"Based on the recovery plans set forth by the Illinois Governor and Chicago Mayor’s offices, which responsibly recognize the serious nature of this pandemic, it is clear we will not be in a position to reopen our physical facility for quite some time," the Adler said. "Therefore, we are looking at ways to position the museum to viably serve the public and deliver our mission in a virtual environment for the time being."

"The Adler’s remaining staff will focus on transforming and scaling the museum’s unique offerings to serve constituents and communities through digital engagement while determining how to safely reopen to the public when we are able," the statement continued.

The state of Illinois remains under a stay-at-home order through the end of May, with a five-phase, region-by-region reopening plan based on metrics of the outbreak and hospitalization data in place.

It's not immediately clear where museums fall in the state's reopening plan, thought gatherings of more than 50 people will not be allowed until the fifth and final phase, which requires a vaccine or readily available treatment for COVID-19. However, entertainment venues like theaters are allowed to open in phase four with capacity limits and safety guidelines from public health officials.

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