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Field Museum Faces Attendance, Budget, Programming Woes

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on May 16, 2011 6:30PM

Sue the T-Rex by Bart Palka

Crain's has a very interesting article in today's edition that details the depth of the struggles currently being wrestled by the Field Museum; the headline "Evolve or Die" is a nice and fitting touch to the story.

The story outlines the woes faced by the Field Museum as a combination of a lack of attendance, stagnant programming and dwindling money from endowments. Attendance at thee Field has declined 50 percent between the years 2006 and 2010. Revenue at the Field has increased thanks in part to higher ticket prices, but museum President/CEO John McCarter has slashed full-time staff at the museum to 431 employees since 2007 and is working on avenues to raise capital as government grants decline.

The biggest issue might be one of relevancy. An executive committee of the Field Museum board has also asked 73-year-old McCarter to help in finding his successor to help fulfill the five-year, $100 million capital campaign they're undertaking. McCarter, however, told Crain's he has no intention of retiring. The executive committee wants to bring aboard a successor young enough to be a shot in the arm to the Field's long-range efforts who can revitalize the museum's programming.