The Minnesota Historical Society is laying off nearly a third of its staff, announcing 176 layoffs this week, mostly at its historic sites and museums that remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another 139 positions are continuing to be furloughed without pay by the taxpayer-backed nonprofit, which had nearly 600 full- and part-time employees before the cuts.

"It's devastating," spokeswoman Jessica Kohen said. "We're going to probably look a little different, but we're continuing to be good stewards of the state's dollars."

Of its $65 million budget last year, 61% came from the state in its appropriation and Legacy Fund while 19% was from admission fees, program fees and other services.

Minnesota Historical Society leaders are considering other cuts such as offering fewer services, Kohen said. Like the Science Museum of Minnesota and Minnesota Children's Museum — both of which also have issued layoffs — the Historical Society is shifting content online during the pandemic.

"History is still there even if our sites aren't open," she said.

The nonprofit said 64 staff will resume work, with a total of about 300 staffers working. Two more sites — Split Rock Lighthouse and Jeffers Petroglyphs — will reopen July 15. The organization previously opened Birch Coulee Battlefield, Traverse des Sioux and Marine Mill outdoor trails.

The rest of the 26 sites, including the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis and Historic Fort Snelling, remain closed through at least this fall.