Marciano Art Foundation lays off employees, closes to public until further notice

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Employees of the Marciano Art Foundation weren't allowed in when they showed up for work Friday. In fact, no one was.

The Mid-Wilshire museum has been open since 2017, but according to its website, it will remain closed to the public until further notice.

The closure comes after employees of the foundation decided to unionize. They held a protest Friday in response to the layoffs.

"We had a lot of problems that were minor problems that really could have been solved. Everybody wanted more than minimum wage. We're all people who had advanced degrees and we wanted to be paid for our education," said Betsy-Ann Toffler, who has worked at the Marciano Art Foundation for a year.

Following their decision to unionize, employees received an email that they were being laid off effective Thursday, citing low attendance the past few weeks. However, that came as a surprise because entry and parking are free of charge.

"It's actually very scary that they're so against something that would make our lives better and enrich and enhance the foundation by having happier workers. Some works in there are multi-million dollar works. When you compare that to how much they would be able to pay us, there's no comparison," said Raul Arzate, who has worked at the Marciano Art Foundation since its opening.

The museum features the private contemporary art collection belonging to the co-founders of the clothing company Guess.

"Here are these people who opened up their private collection to show it for free to the public and when I came to work here, I thought that was fantastic," Toffler said. "But now that they've done this, it makes me wonder about what kind of people they really are. Did they really care about us at all? Did they really care about the community at all? Or is it just a selfish greedy act on their part."

The union representing the 70 employees has filed an unfair labor practice with the National Labor Relations Board.

Eyewitness News asked the Marciano Art Foundation whether they plan to re-open but has not heard back.
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