At the Smithsonian’s Ark Museum in Washington, D.C., staffers have been battling with budget cuts and an increase in security that they say is the result of a concerted effort to keep the museum in check.
In a statement, the museum said it’s in the midst “of an intense public crisis” and that it “is working to address some of the critical issues affecting our mission and our ability to maintain our mission.”
The museum also said it was cutting $600 million from the museum’s annual budget, but declined to specify the number.
The museum has about 1,500 employees.
At least four staffers have quit since the beginning of 2018, according to the statement.
“We have made significant cuts and efficiencies to address staffing, operations, and the quality of life for staff members, but it’s a slow process,” the statement said.
“We will continue to address our staffing needs as we respond to the crisis.”
The museum said staff members have been told they won’t be able to return until January, and that they won, in fact, be offered an interview position that they declined.
The decision to cut staff and eliminate programs, however, comes as the museum has faced a string of high-profile controversies over the past several years.
On Feb. 17, 2017, Smithsonian’s chief of the National Museum of American History resigned over an investigation into the alleged misuse of funds to pay for a private jet to travel to Las Vegas for the March 20 Republican National Convention.
The allegations against the museum were first reported by the Daily Beast.
Last year, the Smithsonian removed a controversial portrait of former President Donald Trump from the collection, saying it was outdated.
The removal sparked a wave of criticism and prompted the president to call for a boycott of the museum.
Stern later reinstated the painting, but said the decision was made “because of the increasing level of tension within the museum community.”
In April 2018, the department said it had been unable to identify a new director for the museum because it was “a difficult decision” to make, according with a statement on the museum website.
Then, in August 2018, Trump ordered the National Park Service to investigate whether the Smithsonian had failed to follow federal regulations governing the use of federal lands in a national monument.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that the National Institutes of Health had lost millions of dollars in funding due to budget cuts.
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