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Akron Art Museum is Overcoming Pandemic-Induced Financial Difficulties, Attracting New Visitors

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The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many financial challenges to museums across the country. While some, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, recently announced layoffs, the picture is not as bleak for the Akron Art Museum.

Interim Executive Director Jon Fiume says the museum has received grant funding, support from donors, and recently held a successful virtual fundraiser.

The museum reopened for in person attendance in July, and although nothing can compare to pre-pandemic numbers, Fiume says there have been some new visitors.

“But the one thing that we have noticed is a lot of people that have never been to the museum before," he said. "And we believe that is simply due to the fact that people are staying home, looking for things to do nearby, and so it’s been wonderful to introduce them to the museum."

The Akron Art Museum reduced staff early in the crisis. That led to speculation and a resurgence of allegations against the former director. Staff members accused Mark Masuoka of making racist remarks and creating a hostile work culture.

Masuokastepped down in May after seven years in the position.

Fiume took over as interim executive director. He believes the museum has cleared the public perception and financial hurdles that followed Masuoka’s departure.

“Well, certainly, at the beginning it did hurt us financially, but I can tell you we’re moving in the right direction, and the community is responding in a very supportive—a positive— way,” he said.

Fiume says the museum is in a good place financially and does not expect any layoffs or furloughs in the future.

The Akron Art Museum will have extended hours beginning Nov. 5 and will charge no admission fee through the end of the year. Visitors must register for a free ticket online or by calling 330-376-9186 and pressing "0."

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Akron Art Museum is Overcoming Pandemic-Induced Financial Difficulties, Attracting New Visitors

Abigail Bottar is a junior at Kent State University. She is pursuing a major in political science with a concentration in American politics and minors in history and women's studies. Additionally, Abigail is starting her second semester copy editing for The Burr.