Washington state museums received some positive news last week, as Gov. Jay Inslee cleared a path for many to reopen. However, it’s likely little consolation for a number of MoPOP employees who are out of jobs nonetheless.

The Seattle pop culture museum has laid off 32 “contingent and temporary” employees, a MoPOP spokesperson said Tuesday.

“We have had to make the difficult decision to eliminate contingent and temporary positions at the museum,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “These roles are meant to help us ramp up staffing when we are at capacity in normal operations and, unfortunately, we won’t be at ‘normal’ for some time.”

All of the employees affected were part time.

This week several Seattle museums announced reopening dates in accordance with Inslee’s updated Safe Start reopening plan. Museums located in counties in Phase 2 of the governor’s plan, such as King, may now reopen at 25% capacity while adhering to other requirements, including staggered entry times and mandatory face coverings for visitors over 2 years old. MoPOP is expected to announce its reopening plans soon.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we have worked tirelessly to preserve the organization for the future while still delivering on our nonprofit mission,” the MoPOP spokesperson said. “Even with reopening on the horizon, we still have to contend with diminished capacity, a sharp decline in tourism and the lasting effects of the global economic downturn.”

Founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, MoPOP operates as a nonprofit independent from the late tech giant’s Vulcan company, which oversees a number of Allen’s various endeavors. In May, Vulcan closed its arts and entertainment wing, leaving the future of its beloved Cinerama movie theater, the Seattle Art Fair and two other museums in doubt.


Correction: A previous version of this story mischaracterized the relationship between MoPOP and Vulcan.