'Not A Great Look': Former OKPOP Museum Employee Reacts To Suddenly Being Laid Off

Most of the employees at Tulsa's OKPOP Museum were laid off by the Oklahoma Historical Society on Monday.

Monday, July 8th 2024, 9:52 pm



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Most of the employees at Tulsa's OKPOP Museum were laid off by the Oklahoma Historical Society on Monday.

These layoffs come a month after Oklahoma legislation pledged $18 million if the museum can raise another $18 million in donations.

An OKPOP employee who was laid off says he's not totally surprised.

Joey Duffy worked for the OKPOP Museum for the last two years and says he and his former co-workers have been hearing rumors layoffs were coming.

Duffy was a production assistant and says his entire department lost their jobs with the OKPOP Museum. They made videos, podcasts, and social media posts designed to show people inside the unopened museum.

"We are working tirelessly to bring you these stories and to support and advocate for Oklahoma creatives," Joey Duffy, former employee said.

Duffy says his bosses told him there isn't any money left to pay for most of its staff.

Taxpayer funds can't be used until the museum raises $18 million on its own.

"So there's all that money sitting there so now they have to let go of most of the staff and I don't understand how they think they are going to get more, I don't understand what OHS is doing," Duffy said.

While Duffy says he believes he was let go because of the museum's financial problems, he says people might have lost their jobs because the Oklahoma Historical Society has its own rules.

"We are the people's museum and we want to do things differently," Duffy said.

OKPOP says its first priority is getting funding, but Duffy says layoffs might send the wrong message.

"It's not a great look to say hey we need you all to invest millions into this, oh by the way we're getting rid of our entire staff," Duffy said.

Duffy says he's heartbroken about losing his job, but he wants to see OKPOP open because he believes it will inspire kids in Oklahoma.

"To be able to tell those kids from Depew, from Verdigris, from McAlester, yeah Brad Pitt is from right down the street, Troy Aikman's from Henryetta, like you can get out too, you can make a difference you don't have to go to Nashville, New York, LA, you can do it here," Duffy said.

The Oklahoma Historical Society issued the following statement:

"Our team at OKPOP has been working on three key objectives. First, securing state matching support of $18 million through the passage and signature of Senate Bill 1155. Second, raising $18 million in private dollars for the legislative match. And third, acquiring and cataloging collections to complete the exhibit plan for the museum. We secured grants that allowed us to invest in an amazing team doing tremendous behind-the-scenes work in collections, social media, events, and building management. With the signing of SB 1155, the goal is set, and the timer is running to complete fundraising by November 2025. 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. Toward that end, we have made the hard decision to temporarily reduce our staff until the museum build-out is fully funded; these transitions will go into effect August 30. We want to thank all of the staff and volunteers who have worked diligently to build the foundational collections and materials that will bring this museum to life once fundraising is completed."


Once all the funding is in place, the earliest the museum will open is late 2026.

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