MoPOP, Museum of Pop Culture – Seattle, WA
Formerly known as EMP, MoPOP is a museum in Seattle, Washington, dedicated to popular culture, from rock and roll and science fiction to sports, cartoons, video games, and more.
Building and site
Created in 2000 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen as “Experience Music Project”, the MoPOP museum is housed in a futuristic 140,000-square-foot building located in Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighborhood and designed by famed Canadian-born American architect Frank Gehry.
Inaugurated on June 23, 2000, Gehry’s building received mixed reviews, with some people praising its bold and futuristic appearance while others deeming its architecture overly chaotic and intrusive.
The construction consists of five wrinkled curvilinear volumes, clad with 4,000 stainless steel and aluminum panels, whose materials and colors, on the one hand, mimic the energy and rebel attitude of rock music and, on the other hand, vaguely resemble the hull of a sci-fi movie spaceship.
MoPOP with the Space Needle on the left. Photo Andrew E. Larsen (CC BY-ND 2.0).
Two images of the metal cladding of the museum building. Photos by Amy (CC BY-ND 2.0), and Adrian Carey (CC BY-ND 2.0).
What to see and do at MoPOP
The MoPOP museum features both semi-permanent galleries and temporary exhibitions.
Currently, there are sections dedicated to Seattle’s celebrated grunge band Nirvana, to a large collection of guitars from 1770 to the present, to music legend Jimi Hendrix, to Science Fiction and Fantasy, Horror films, video games, and the Seattle Seahawks football franchise.
The museum also features the Sound Lab and On Stage interactive galleries, dedicated to rock-and-roll, and a large multimedia installation by sound sculptor Trimpin, entitled IF VI WAS IX.
Temporary exhibitions at MoPOP cover subjects such as Science Fiction, Pop music, cartoons, and virtually all fields related to popular culture.
Additional services and activities
MoPOP organizes concerts, special events, and educational programs; the museum building includes an 800-seat concert hall, two stores, and a restaurant bar.
A view of the Star Trek exhibitions and some Borg props on display at the MoPOP, and a view of one of the rooms of the “Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction” gallery. Photos Sergey Galyonkin (CC BY-ND 2.0).
The T-800 robot from “Terminator” (1984), and the video games exhibition. Photos Sergey Galyonkin.
David Bowie exhibits in the Rock and Roll gallery and the theater with a video on Bob Dylan. Photos by Sergey Galyonkin, and Nicola (CC BY 2.0).
Cover image, the MoPOP museum in Seattle. Photo Maciek Lulko (CC BY-NC 2.0).
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The exhibition Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses at EMP Museum portrays both the story of Nirvana and the coeval musical and cultural context in Seattle
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