Please Touch Museum lays off 75% of staff, postpones reopening until 2021

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Please Touch Museum says the pandemic has forced it to lay off 75-percent of its staff and delay its reopening.

The museum announced a "pause on playing together" Friday as it will keep its doors closed for the remainder of the year "due to the ongoing uncertainty and public health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic and its related financial implications."

"The decision to implement a pause on playing together is agonizing," Patricia D. Wellenbach, President and CEO of Please Touch Museum, said in a press release. "Families living in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties, our neighbors in the Parkside community, and school districts throughout our region rely on PTM as a place of wonder, discovery, and joyful learning for young children. To not be able to serve as this community resource to them for such a long period is painful, and certainly was not expected when we first closed in March."

Wellenbach says the closure also impacts the museum's staff, many of whom had been anticipating returning to work from being on furlough.

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During the extended closure, the museum says it will operate with a limited staff of 18 employees working within a modified schedule and with corresponding salary reductions.

The children's museum in Fairmount Park was planning on a September reopening. It will now postpone its reopening to an undetermined date in 2021.

"I support PTM's decision to extend its closure to steward the preservation of our city's historic Memorial Hall and help fight the spread of COVID-19," Mayor Jim Kenney said. "Please Touch Museum is a regional asset that provides critical early childhood learning opportunities, especially for our most vulnerable children, and I look forward to its reopening in 2021 when it is safe for us all to play together again."

The museum will continue its freeze on all current memberships as of March 2020 with no time lost. Members will not need to take any action to continue the membership freeze, the museum says.
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