The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has published a very good article about the gradual erosion of curatorial expertise caused by the freezing of positions. This has been a fact of life for most of us in museums for years, but it's one that's largely invisible to the public. Of course, it's not just the academic research programs that suffer - for every frozen curatorial position there's usually at least one, and sometimes more than one, in collections care. Many institutions are operating with a skeleton staff and sometimes no staff at all. It would be tempting to view this as a symptom of the current financial crunch, but in fact - as the article makes clear - it's been going on for years. Even in times of relative prosperity, museums have been redeploying funds to support new initiatives at the expense of existing programs. You might say that this was good management, but in many cases what's actually happened is that support for core activities has been nibbled away - a case of too much icing and not enough cake.
[written from my hotel room in Leiden, where I am wrestling with the Dutch interface for blogger.com - apparently "aanmelden" means "sign in." Who knew?]