CEO Resigns at Paul Allen’s Newly Christened Museum of Pop Culture

More changes are afoot at Allen's Seattle institution

Paul Allen at the premiere of Interstellar in 2014. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Last month Paul Allen’s Seattle institution—designed by starchitect Frank Gehry—announced that it will now be called the Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP, a rename of the former Experience Music Project (EMP). Today comes news that the longtime CEO and director, Patty Isacson Sabee, will step down from the museum at the end of the year. Sabee, who served 10 years with the museum, was named CEO in 2014

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

According to geekwire Sabee is leaving to “pursue other interests,” though these interests were not specified. In the interim, 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.

Founded by Paul G. Allen and opened in 2000, the non-profit museum has organized more than 57 exhibitions, 20 of which have traveled in the U.S. and internationally.

On the rechristening, Allen is quoted on geekwire, stating: “This new naming captures the evolution of the wide set of experiences the museum has come to offer. It has become a landmark destination and a valuable learning resource for visitors of all ages and engages passionate fans of pop culture from all over the world.”

Allen is quite active in the art world and was recently added to artnet News annual list of the top collectors in the world. As artnet News reported, the billionaire “has received a great deal of ink this past year.” The Seattle-based collector and founder of Microsoft opened a new non-profit, Pivot Art + Culture, last  December. He also organized a five-museum touring exhibition of his collection, “Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection.” The exhibition debuted at Oregon’s Portland Museum of Art before traveling to the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC.



Allen’s company, Vulcan, produced the second edition of the well-received Seattle Art Fair this past August, and he is also considering the possibility of opening a museum of pop culture in Washington, DC.

Last month, Allen was the seller of a major Gerhard Richter painting at Phillips auction house. Dusenjager (1963), a picture of a military jet, sold for $25.6 million, compared with an estimate of $25–35 million. Allen bought the work in 2007 for $11.2 million.

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