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Staff at OKPOP 'temporarily reduced' in hopes of meeting funding goal

OKPOP Museum Exterior
Posted at 12:52 PM, Jul 08, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma Historical Society notified staff at the OKPOP Museum about layoffs on July 8.

Right now the Oklahoma Historical Society is working to match $18 million in funding from the state. OKPOP Director Jake Krumweide said they decided to "temporarily reduce" staff until the museum build-out is fully funded.

2 News asked OHS how many people lost their jobs, and they declined to answer.

Krumweide said the "transitions will go into effect on August 30."

WATCH: We reported in May 2023 when the state agreed to match $18 million in private fundraising.

Money Designated for OKPOP Museum

The funding awarded in SB 1155 gives the museum until November 2025 to complete the private fundraising.

"We are confident in our ability to reach this private funding goal but realize we need to focus all our efforts in this direction at this time," Krumweide said.

Joey Duffy worked in production, creating videos for exhibits until notified that the grant money designated to pay staff ran out.

“I don’t know how they are going to be able to accomplish the things they’re trying to accomplish, without all of the people helping accomplish it,” said Duffy. “A devastating loss for sure, I don’t know that I have fully processed it yet.
In 2015, Governor Mary Fallin signed off on providing $25 million in bonds to build the facility. In late 2019, a groundbreaking took place in an ideal location across from Cain’s Ballroom.

CLICK: Timeline of OKPOP announcements:

However, like many projects starting at that time, COVID stalled things, and construction costs went up. Officials then said another $35 million was needed to finish the inside and get the exhibits up and running.

After that, legislation was rejected more than once. Until this session—what many viewed as a glimmer of hope for OKPOP as Governor Stitt signed the bill to create a revolving fund. $18 million in matching funds is set aside, but the money stays put until matching funds are raised.

“You don’t always get to sit under the shade of the trees you plant,” said Duffy. “While that is a tragedy, it is the goal of the museum to open, and I hope more than anything that it does.”

Once OKPOP is fully funded, OHS officials said they plan to increase staff again. Duffy said he would love to go back if given the opportunity.

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