First Metal Badges, Now the Free Help: Met’s Membership Desk Volunteers Nixed for Paid Employees

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The Great Hall. (Courtesy Wesportwiki/Wikipedia Commons)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will convert the volunteer positions at its three membership desks into paid part-time jobs starting Nov. 1.

“The fact is that because of new technologies and also the expansion of auditing and compliance requirements, the demands on membership have really been changing over the last year and they’ve increased dramatically at this point,” said Harold Holzer, senior vice president for public affairs at the museum. “All of those [reasons] prompted reexamination of the way the desks are staffed, and we really think that we need paid employees working at the desks.”

One hundred volunteers currently staff the Met’s membership desks, which have been manned by volunteers for at least the past four decades. According to Mr. Holzer, some of the displaced volunteers will be able to continue working in other areas of the museum. At the moment, there are no plans to eliminate other volunteer positions, such as those at the visitor services and information desks where “there’s not the same cash activity going on.”

“There’s a certain routine that has to be done with fiscal transactions that we want to make sure we comply with and do as efficiently and effectively as possible,” said Mr. Holzer. “It needs to be done agilely with the complete and latest understanding of the technology and it has to be done quickly to make it efficient.”

The museum is currently interviewing candidates for the 18 new part-time positions. The new hires, who will each work four days a week, will receive technological training and “have a regular schedule, that’s crucial as well,” said to Mr. Holzer. “We want clearly the accountability that paid staff provides.”