Originally opened in 2000, the EMP (which stands for “Experience Music Project”) is a modern museum that’s so, so much more. Designed by Frank O. Gehry, the architect behind other wonders including the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Air and Space building of the California Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles, the building itself is a marvel to behold on the Seattle Center campus- especially in contrast to the Space Needle.
The museum houses a number of exhibits centered primarily around popular culture- you’ll find musical history as expected, but there’s also memorabilia from movies and television as well as literature, video games, and art. Exhibits have shifted a touch since my visit two years ago, but many remain of the same topics at least.
For the horror fan, Can’t Look Away: The Lure of the Horror Film takes visitors on a journey exploring the reason for our culture’s intense love affair with scary flicks. On display, you’ll find costume pieces, models, weapons (including Buffy’s Mr. Pointy!), and monsters.
The fantasy lover can explore Worlds of Myth and Magic from the perspective of the major archetypes (I’m the Trickster, unsurprisingly to most).
View original manuscripts from Game of Thrones, gaze wistfully upon costumes worn in everything from Xena to The Princess Bride, and take a walk through the local branch of the Library of the Arcane.
There’s also a special exhibit dedicated to the Science Fiction fan. When I visited, this was called the Icons of Science Fiction but now is known as the Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction which is organized as a tour of the cosmos through its planets.
Also upcoming is a special Star Trek exhibit Exploring New Worlds. For more information on that and other upcoming exhibits, be sure to check out the EMP website.
In addition, the museum houses the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame which honors the greatest creators of the two genres and an entire wing of musical memorabilia I’m doing an injustice to by not waxing poetic for several paragraphs. I could have spent several days in the museum itself and I encourage anyone planning a visit to set aside extra time.
The EMP Museum is located at 325 5th Ave N in Seattle, Washington, and is open daily from 10 am-5 pm. You can find out more information, including upcoming exhibits and events and ticket information on their website.