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The Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle. (MoPOP Photo)

On the heels of another major name change, Paul Allen’s Museum of Pop Culture is also getting a change in leadership as the Seattle-based institution announced that Patty Isacson Sabee will be stepping down as CEO and director at the end of the year.

Patty Isacson Sabee
Patty Isacson Sabee. (LinkedIn Photo)

In an email to members on Monday, MoPOP said that Sabee, who had been with the museum for 10 years, had “decided to pursue other opportunities.” She was named CEO in January 2014 after previously serving as deputy director for external relations and advancement.

Here is the full text of that email:

Dear friends of MoPOP,

Patty Isacson Sabee will be stepping down as CEO + Director of the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) at the end of the year. After serving more than ten years with the organization, she has decided to pursue other opportunities. Isacson Sabee was named CEO in 2014; prior to that, she was appointed interim director for one year, and served as the museum’s deputy director for six years. We are grateful for Patty’s contributions to MoPOP. The museum is in a strong position as a result of Patty’s commitment and leadership, with annual visitation upwards of 700,000. We are poised for continuing growth and deepening our connections within the community. We wish her success in her new endeavors and thank her for all her contributions to EMP/MoPOP over the past decade.

Chris McGowan, President and CEO of the Portland Trail Blazers and Vice President of the MoPOP Board of Directors, has assumed a leadership position at MoPOP and is working with the board and its chairman Paul Allen to finalize a transition plan. In addition to the Trail Blazers, McGowan also oversees operations for Moda Center, Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the surrounding Rose Quarter entertainment complex. He has worked globally in entertainment, sports, events, and brand building. Prior to joining the Trail Blazers in 2012, McGowan spent 16 years driving marketing, sales and brand initiatives for Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) championship franchises — Los Angeles Kings (National Hockey League) and LA Galaxy (Major League Soccer) — and major entertainment venues including STAPLES Center, Stub Hub Center, and Microsoft Theater. McGowan has also worked on numerous high-profile special events including The GRAMMYs, The Latin GRAMMYs, the Rose Bowl, various concerts, family shows, and the King Tut exhibit tour.

The MoPOP email pointed to a “letter from the CEO” dated Dec. 2, in which Sabee offered thanks for having been part of the organization. “With the support of all of you, MoPOP is thriving, relevant, and incredibly engaging,” she wrote.

Here is the complete text of Sabee’s letter:

Dear friends of MoPOP,

Thank you for your support as the Museum of Pop Culture launched its new brand with a day of celebratory programming attended by nearly 10,000 people!  As I look back at the decade I have spent with this organization, I can truly say that I am inspired by the power of MoPOP to serve as an inclusive and profoundly interesting place for us to explore the many “culture quakes” that continuously ripple through human society—providing a way for each of us to be different. Together.

I am leaving the organization at the end of this year with grateful thanks to have been a part of it. With the support of all of you, MoPOP is thriving, relevant, and incredibly engaging. Annual visitation is now upwards of 700,000 and the curatorial and programmatic portfolio is internationally renowned—in the past four years, attendance has grown by 55% and MoPOP’s exhibits have been experienced from Sea-Tac Airport to Sao Paolo, Brazil. In the community, MoPOP is a leading provider of youth development programming both in the schools and on its Sky Church stage, serving more than 35,000 young people annually.

I look forward to joining you as a fan and supporter of MoPOP for many years to come!

With gratitude,


The change in name to Museum of Pop Culture, announced on Nov. 15, was the fifth in 16 years for Allen’s museum, founded in 2000 as Experience Music Project. The museum, housing a music collection of approximately 140,000 artifacts, among other things, says it saw record attendance in 2015, with 743,533 museum visitors, an increase of 26 percent from 2014.

“MoPOP reflects who we are today and the future of the museum,” Sabee said last month. “Pop culture is a platform that resonates with audiences in a powerful way. And at MoPOP we provide avenues through our exhibits and programs for people to explore, learn, create, and celebrate pop culture in all of its diversity.”

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