One of Seattle’s most highly rated attractions, the value of the Experience Music Project Museum (EMP) can be determined by asking one question: Where else can you find a replica of a Game of Thrones throne, Captain Kirk’s command chair, a Lord of the Rings manuscript, an elaborate guitar sculpture, and artifacts celebrating the careers of iconic musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana? If you haven’t yet been to this unique and uniquely exceptional museum, read more about EMP here.
History of EMP
Paul Allen, Microsoft’s accomplished co-founder and generous philanthropist, founded the Experience Music Project Museum in 2000. His aim was to pinpoint and celebrate the ideas (and the risk of running with them) that drive contemporary popular culture. During the museum’s 16-year history, it has organized dozens of exhibits, 17 of which have toured the country. The foundation, which also housed the popular Science Fiction Museum from 2004-2011, is a nonprofit organization.
Architecture and Design
Bold and divisive architect Frank Gehry, renowned for his work on the Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed the EMP Museum’s 140,000 square-foot gallery. Gehry was also responsible for drawing up a plan for the Sky Church, an indoor concert venue with an outstanding sound system and one of the largest indoor LED screens in the world. Located on the Seattle Center campus, the Experience Music Project Museum is intersected by the Seattle Center Monorail.
One of the museum’s highlights, the large and elaborate Sound Sculpture titled IF VI WAS IX, was created by UK exhibit designer Neal Potter and Seattle-based sound sculptor Trimpin. It’s composed of more than 500 instruments and 20 computers.
Exhibits and Interactive Activities
The museum currently houses five permanent exhibits, and showcases seven or eight temporary exhibits at any given time. Exhibits currently on display feature Hello Kitty, Jimi Hendrix’s time abroad, Nirvana’s role in punk music’s history and iconography, and Indie multimedia multiplayer games. The next visiting exhibit, coming May 21, 2016, is called Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds.
Educational Resources, Public Programs & Events
Education is one of the driving forces of the Experience Music Project, and the museum reflects that. In-museum workshops and outreach programs are held on a regular basis for children, teen, and adults. The museum runs Students Training in Artistic Reach (STAR), a creative camp for kids, and annual sci-fi and fantasy short story contest for young writers called Write Out of this World.
Public programs run or sponsored by the museum include the EMP Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Story Festival and Sound Off!, perhaps the most highly anticipated and influential battle-of-the-bands competition.
EMP also houses the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, founded independently in 1996 and incorporated by the museum in 2004. In 2011-2012, the museum received a makeover that de-installed the Science Fiction Museum as a permanent exhibit, but its legacy continued to live on in the newly unveiled Hall of Fame. In addition to profiles and photographs of its 84 members, the Hall of Fame showcases original song lyric scrolls and other career mementos from many of its inductees. Big names added to the Hall of Fame in recent years include J.R.R. Tolkein, Stanley Kubrick, Kurt Vonnegut, and David Bowie
The EMP Museum is just a five-minute drive from the South Lake Union apartments at AMLI 535 and AMLI South Lake Union. It’s sure to keep guests of all ages entertained, so it’s perfect for a family outing, date spot or afternoon with friends.
What’s your favorite feature or exhibit at EMP in Seattle? Share in the comments!
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