How the Government Shutdown Affects Museum Workers

Added to Medium, January 17, 2019

As the government shutdown continues in the United States, federal workers are struggling to financially support themselves and their families. Many museum professionals who work in museums that were not able to be open because of the shutdown are among the federal workers struggling for the past 27 days (as of January 17th). Federal workers are affected in a number of ways by the shutdown.

In a New York Times article, it stated approximately 800,000 federal workers are furloughed or working without pay across the country because of the government shutdown. Each state has been affected in varying ways; for instance outside the capital, states with large numbers of workers for the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior are more likely to feel the shutdown’s effects. Also, nearly the entire staff of the Environmental Protection Agency is furloughed, including hundreds of workers in North Carolina and Illinois. The most recent Washington Journal article pointed out that the partial government shutdown is now the longest in modern history and hundreds of thousands of federal workers have started to miss paychecks. The longer the government shutdown lasts, federal workers will continue to suffer and it will get worse if the shutdown persists.

There are businesses and other organizations that are doing what they can to help all federal workers affected by the government shutdown. During tonight’s #MuseumEdChat Twitter discussion, we talked about what opportunities are out there to help federal workers by offering free or discounted services and expressed who and what we are grateful for as we try to be as supportive as possible to our colleagues going through financial strain. One of the examples shared in the discussion was from phone companies:

Q1. We know the #Shutdown is affecting many people, and that many others are stepping in to provide help. If you know of an organization providing discounts/support share them here. Add a # with the location so people can find them along with #MuseumEdChat


AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile is willing to work with those affected on fees. Most banks are also willing to work with affected employees including Bank of America, CHase, DIscover, USAA, most credit unions


A1-Additional. The biggest would be your local food pantry or support organizations. Looking more “global” @WCKitchen. Also, I’ve got Coast Guard family and the fact that this is the first time that armed forces is going without pay bc of shutdown so @CGMutualAssist

Another example is from a university offering free professional development programs for federal workers.


Replying to @Museumptnrs

#MuseumEdChat A1 #Montclair, NJ

MSU Offers Free Program Friday for Federal Employees During Shutdown; Mikie Sherrill To Attend —

In addition to phone companies and universities, there are loan companies offering services for federal workers. According to one of participants in the discussion, there is a loan that federal workers in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area can sign up for:


Hebrew Free Loan is offering $1,250 no-interest, no-fee loans to federal government workers who are not being paid due to the government shutdown. You don’t need to be Jewish to qualify. More info here:

The global museum community is also doing what they can to help federal workers during the government shutdown. I shared a link I found for a GoFundMe page in which MuseumNext is raising money to give Smithsonian federal workers at least a slice of pizza as the government shutdown persists. MuseumNext is a major conference series on the future of museums that takes place annually in Europe, North America and Australia, attracting an engaged, loyal and dynamic audience working in museums, galleries and cultural venues across the globe. According to the page, they stated that they will organize a giant pizza order to deliver those working a lunch on them, which demonstrates that they have the support of the global museum community and that they wish to do something to help. By showing their support, I admire and appreciate that there is a global museum community that will reach out to their overseas colleagues in times of need to do what they can to help and show support.

Outside of the #MuseumEdChat discussion, I also came across a couple of sources to help federal workers as the government shutdown continues to make it harder for them to get basic needs. On the Today show website, Meghan Holohan wrote five ways we can do to help furloughed federal workers during the government shutdown including donating to the food pantry, donate to repair national parks, and call your representatives. Another one I found was from CertifiKid which lists family-friendly government shutdown freebies for federal workers. For example, it lists things to do including:

Monster Mini Golf (Columbia, MD): Free Mini Golf for up to 4 people valid Monday — Thursday until the shutdown ends. Mention CertifiKID and present government ID for each golfer.

There is also a list of restaurants and other entertainment deals to help with the financial burdens federal workers are dealing with, and the list will continue to be updated as soon as they are aware of more deals.

We all need to remember to help one another during these hard times. Federal workers, whether they are in the museums or out of the museums, need as much help as possible to support themselves and their loved ones. If you know someone who is struggling through the government shutdown, please tell them how grateful you are for what they do. Please do whatever you can to help them through these times.


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