It looks like the Metropolitan Museum of Art won’t be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2020 with a new wing after all.

The Met on Wednesday morning informed its staff that it will push back plans for a $600 million southwest wing dedicated to Modern and contemporary art as it takes new measures to get its financial house in order.

The Met had hoped to complete construction of an extension to the Fifth Avenue building while it was still leasing the former Whitney Museum — now called the Met Breuer — on Madison Avenue. But the Met may not break ground on the new wing for as many as seven years, said Daniel H. Weiss, the Met’s president and chief operating officer.

Instead, the Met will concentrate on replacing the skylights and roofing system above the European paintings galleries, work that won’t start until 2018 and is expected to last about four years.

“It’s logical that that’s the urgent project we pursue first,” said Thomas P. Campbell, the director of the Met, saying the museum was “baking these long-term projects into a responsible master plan that matches our capacity with our ambition.”

Asked whether the wing’s delay was the result of an inability to come up with a major lead gift, Mr. Campbell said: “We’re very confident about raising funds for this project when the time comes.”

He declined to give a specific start date for work on the new wing, though he said there “could be some overlap” with the skylights project. Mr. Campbell also said the Met had not made any decision regarding its eight-year lease of the Breuer building, which costs the museum $17 million a year to run.

“We’re very pleased with the success of the first year,” Mr. Campbell said.

In the face of deficits, the Met has been working over the last several months to shave $31 million from its operating budget through voluntary buyouts and layoffs, and to increase revenue from its retail stores.

The museum is also confronting concerns from curators, which were detailed in a recent confidential memo to Met executives.

In particular, the group, known as the Forum of Curators, Conservators and Scientists, objected to the Met’s cuts to employees’ supplemental benefits program, which Mr. Weiss said amounted to an overall reduction of 1 percent. Taken together with staff reductions, several curators have expressed unhappiness with the museum.

“Their well-being and morale is of utmost concern to us,” Mr. Weiss said. “The curators and the conservators are in many fundamental ways at the core of this institution.”

Mr. Campbell said the Met is “on track” to balance the budget by 2020.

“We’ve made very significant progress towards bringing our revenues and expenses into line,” he said. “Many of the painful decisions are past us.”

This article was sourced from http://newsinmarathi.com