While the museum will close its first fiscal year this month with a "modest surplus," chief executive and director Jodi Callan said "corporate giving is down. We also have to be very mindful that as a brand new institution there is a lot of interest in the first year that levels off in the second and third years."
With corporate donations down, museums must rely more on their earned income from admissions and memberships. Museum of Glass memberships are ahead of projections with 5,000 subscribers signed up, compared to an anticipated 3,200 members, Callan said.
Attendance also has been strong at more than 160,000 visitors since the museum opened in July, with vacationing families from outside the area accounting for two-thirds of attendance in its first two months in operation. But attendance will drop now that extensive national and international media coverage generated by the museum's opening is waning. Callan said she expects 150,000 visitors next year.
Meanwhile, the museum is a particularly expensive facility to operate with its Hot Shop for demonstrating glass blowing and visiting artists program, Callan said. The Hot Shop alone consumes $110,000 worth of natural gas annually, while the museum's electric bill is $120,000 per year. The rotating visiting artists program costs $58,000 a year.
"It's a worrying time," Callan said. "We need to be very mindful it will take this economy some time to recover."
Among the cost-saving changes is opening one Thursday evening a month starting in January. Previously, the museum was open every Thursday until 8 p.m., in addition to its regular Tuesday through Saturday hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. The museum will stay open until 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in order to continue to participate in the Tacoma Art Walk, which offers free admission to the museum.
The museum has completed its $48 million capital campaign and expects to have repaid its line of credit by year's end. But a $15 million endowment campaign has been postponed until a more opportune time in the coming year, Callan said.
Starting in January, adult admission prices will go up by $2 to $10 for general admission and $8 for senior, military and student admissions. Children's admissions will rise by $1 to $4, with children under the age of 6 still admitted free of charge. There is a new family rate of $30 for two adults and up to four children.