Moving from Utah to the Pacific Northwest has been an enlightening experience, to say the least, and more than welcomed. One of my family’s first forays into the big city of Seattle from our new, temporary apartment in Tacoma was to visit the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP).
I was simply thrilled to behold treasures such as Jimi Hendrix’s purple velour pants and Kurt Cobain’s infamous cardigan sweater, amongst many other priceless items.
Anyone visiting the Seattle area should stop in and locals need to support MoPOP as much as possible.
Current exhibits include:
Pearl Jam – Home and Away, a first-hand look at Pearl Jam’s journey from 1990 to the present and into the future through more than 200 artifacts directly from Pearl Jam band members and their Seattle warehouse, including instruments, stage props, original art, and a photo op featuring the towering letters from the front of Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten.
Nirvana – Taking Punk To the Masses, the world’s most extensive exhibition of memorbellia celebrating the music and history of Seattle rock luminaries, Nirvana, with more than 200 rare artifacts, photographs, and oral histories.
The exhibition features instruments like Kurt Cobain’s Fender Stratocaster, Krist Novoselić’s Hiwatt DR103 bass amplifier head, and Dave Grohl’s Tama Rockstar-Pro drum kit. In addition, a diverse set of objects like the Cobain-created Fecal Matter shirt and the casting call flier for the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video will be on display.
Visitors eager to dig even further can view video kiosks with even more information. Steve Fisk’s ambient soundtrack can be heard as fans move through the exhibition.
The Holodome – a new immersive reality space that transports you to incredible places, surrounding you completely and creating phenomenal memories by exploring other worlds, real and imagined. Do things you never thought possible and lose yourselves in the story as it unfolds all around you from “Seattle Seahawks – The art of the play”, “Songs of Infinity – Journey into a black hole” and “Death planet rescue”.
Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction – Packed with more than 150 artifacts from iconic films and television shows, Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction invites you to experience the incredible range of storytelling found in science fiction: from Star Trek to H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, from big-budget Men in Black to the Philip K. Dick-inspired Blade Runner to the recent Battlestar Galactica series.
Within a dynamic and immersive space, this interactive spacecraft will encourage visitors to embark on their own space adventure, discover new alien civilizations, scout for new worlds to explore from the ship’s cockpit, and investigate numerous alternate universes. What secrets will you unearth?
Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction is included with museum admission and is free for MoPOP members.
Multimedia installations invite hands-on interaction so that visitors can explore the tools of rock ‘n’ roll through electric guitars, drums, samplers, mixing consoles, and more.
Check out the state-of-the-art Jam Studio where you can record your own song using drums, guitars, keyboards, and vocals, then download and share with your friends for free.
In the hands of a skilled DJ, turntables can produce music that would have been impossible just a few short decades ago. Ever wonder how DJs make that scratching sound or move from one record to the next? Find out in DJ Hallway, situated between Demo Lab and Holodome.
AUDIO TECHNOLOGY INTERACTIVES
How do guitar players make such different sounds? Can an audio engineer really fix it in the mix? Technology has played a huge role in the creation of the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll, both behind the scenes in the recording studio and up on the bandstand. Find out more about the recording process, amps, samplers, effects pedals, and microphones.
THE BIG DRUM
The heart of Sound Lab, The Big Drum recalls the early rhythms our ancestors played around the fire. You don’t need any special skills to play it, other than the ones you’d bring to a conversation. Just listen and answer back.
Each of the tall semi-enclosed structures on Sound Lab’s main floor contains three interactive instruments, including guitar, bass, keyboard or drums. These instruments use sophisticated audio, computer graphics and MIDI to guide you through a variety of learning activities, whether it’s learning to play “Louie Louie,” or discovering what a 12-bar blues is. You can also choose to forego a lesson to play instruments on your own or with friends and family. Acoustically optimized dividers in each trio let you rock your socks off without disturbing anyone else.
Twelve acoustically isolated rooms known as studio pods, contain interactive devices, gear, and traditional instruments. Take a lesson, jam with others in the room, try out vocals, and learn about the art of mixing. Special reverberation technology lets you adjust the sound so it’s as big as an amphitheater, or as intimate as a living room.
Indie Game Revolution – Learn how a new breed of gamers are leaving their mark on gaming history with features such as the stories of more than forty independent video game developers, designers, coders, composers, and critics, MoPOP presents a dynamic, immersive space inviting you to witness the present and future of gaming as it unfolds.
Indie Game Revolution is included with museum admission and is free for MoPOP members.
Fantasy Worlds of Myth and Magic – From The Wizard of Oz and The Princess Bride to Harry Potter, Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic invites audiences on a fantastical journey to unearth the inspiration behind this genre’s most magnificent creations.
Pet a dragon designed by Seattle Opera and explore hands-on installations that include world building and mapmaking. See the Wicked Witch of the West’s hat from The Wizard of Oz, weaponry from The Lord of the Rings, the battle headdress and staff used by the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia, and other iconic costumes and props from TV and the silver screen.
Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic is included with museum admission and is free for MoPOP members.
Hendrix: Wild Blue Angel 1966-1970 – From his arrival in London to his untimely death on September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix was rarely in one place for more than a month. Wild Blue Angel: Hendrix Abroad, 1966-1970 offers a contemplative look at the period of Hendrix’s life spent on the road as he catapulted to fame.
Discover the shy genius of Hendrix through an immersive gallery soundtrack featuring rare Hendrix interview clips; Hendrix’s only passport, issued on the day he left for London on September 23, 1966; his diary, where he recounts friends, shows, and experiences from the road; an Electric Lady mixing console from the personal recording studio he used during the last weeks of his life; and other original artifacts, artwork, and photographs.
Wild Blue Angel: Hendrix Abroad, 1966-1970 is included with museum admission and is free for MoPOP members.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame – Explore the lives and legacies of the genre’s greatest in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, which honors science fiction and fantasy’s leading creators and most impactful creations.
The Hall of Fame exhibition invites visitors to explore the lives and legacies of the current inductees through interpretive films, interactive kiosks, and more than 30 artifacts, including Luke Skywalker’s severed hand from George Lucas’ The Empire Strikes Back, the Staff of Ra headpiece from Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, author Isaac Asimov’s typewriter, and the “Right Hand of Doom” from Guillermo del Toro’s film Hellboy.
Founded in 1996, the Hall of Fame was relocated from the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas to its permanent home at MoPOP in 2004. The final inductees are nominated by the public, and chosen by a panel of award-winning science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, editors, publishers, and film professionals.
Scared to Death – The thrill of horror film features more than 50 props and costumes from film and television including A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Walking Dead, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bride of Frankenstein, Dawn of the Dead, Hostel, Jeepers Creepers, and Pet Sematary.
Themed gallery sections evoke the unsettling sensations associated with cinematic terror. A vampire’s lair drips with blood; zombies shamble through an abandoned containment center; and a thicket of suspended corpses frames a killer’s den. In addition, the exhibition offers extensive exhibit films, oral history interviews with the genre’s top directors, and interactive photo ops.
Just Announced, Dearly Beloved – Prince is coming to MoPOP. Prince from Minneapolis will explore both Prince’s creative journey and his influence on other artists and fans.
The exhibition includes nearly 50 artifacts including gorgeous photography reaching back to the beginning of Prince’s career, costumes, a guitar, rare performance footage, and oral histories.
Artists on view include four Minneapolis photographers — Allen Beaulieu, Nancy Bundt, Terry Gydesen, and Robert Whitman — as well as Seattle-based artist Tory Gua, who uses sculptural miniatures to recreate Prince in different settings and the de la Torre brothers, who created memorial spirit figures in glass at Minneapolis’s FOCI glass studio days after Prince’s death.
“Everyone has a Prince story,” said Diane A. Mullin, Weisman Art Museum Senior Curator, and that idea is woven into the fabric of the exhibition through pieces by a wide range of artists who have been inspired by Prince. Among the pieces are a large mural, seed art, and even a bicycle by independent frame builder Eric Noren of Peacock Groove.
MoPOP Curator Brooks Peck announced: “Prince embodied so many of the themes we like to explore at MoPOP. He drew on the work of the greats who came before him, yet created his own, truly original style and sound. He defied convention and broke boundaries, and he continues to inspire musicians as well as artists of all kinds to this day.”