My niece is here visiting. This isn't her first time to Seattle, but what's a trip to the Pacific Northwest without a day in the city?
Since she has seen some of the more popular sights on previous visits, we decided to visit the EMP Museum. EMP stands for Experience Music Project.
And this is my review...
There are so many different kinds of museums and this one is definitely unique beginning with its building designed by world-renowned architect Frank O. Gehry. It is said that he was inspired to create a structure that evoked the rock 'n' roll experience. Ok.....? I didn't get that from its widely undulating, brightly colored facade, unless, of course, it is hinting at the psychedelic drug trips of the musicians in the 60's. (But that's just my interpretation.)
With a name like Experience Music Project, one would not be surprised by exhibits that feature Nirvana and its influence on music especially since this group began in Aberdeen, WA.
For example, the group Maroon 5 took its song, "Sugar" on the road, so to speak. They drove around Los Angeles and would sneak into weddings, and then surprise the bride and groom by playing it live at their wedding reception. (You can see the video here) The EMP has a huge screen (not quite IMAX) that features this video in addition to other musical performances, sci-fi film shorts.
But, I feel like I need to say that that the EMP is not really a museum only about music, as its name implies. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed because there was not more featured specifically about music. For example, while they had an entire exhibit on the punk rock scene, they did not give any attention to other music genres - like folk music or jazz or classical or even country. Although Jimi Hendrix's music may have been revolutionary for the time, other great musicians, who would also have been quite influential were not even mentioned - some of the classic greats like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Elvis or even Michael Jackson! Nor did they have any exhibits featuring movie musicals. How can you have a music museum and not pay tribute to musicals like Singing in the Rain or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, or the many Rodgers and Hammerstein classics, which clearly saw their success because of the musical prominence within. And what about all the modern day movie scores - sheesh!
But, what I came to realize is the EMP is not a "music" museum, but rather a Pop-Culture Museum as it also features sci.-fi. and pop-culture exhibits such as: Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds (celebrating 50 years of exploring the final frontier), Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction (with 150 rare artifacts from sci-fi's most iconic films and tv shows.) Indi Game Revolution (all about the contemporary video game culture) Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic (pop culture artifacts from literature, film, video games, and comics). Can't Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film, We are 12: The Seattle Seahawks and the Road to Victory. (In celebration of the loudest fans in NFL history) and the most recent installation, World of Wearable Art (where fashion and art collide. I think this one is temporary.)
So - lots of interesting exhibits, but not all music related.
A little side note. The Star Trek exhibit has an added cost to it, which is certainly disappointing since general admission is already expensive, and unlike other museums
the EMP does not have a free day.
The Horror Film exhibit is intended for PG-13 audiences.
The Wearable Art was outrageous and quirky, but also interesting to look at.
The message of this piece was to say that wearable art can be a "spiritual experience" much like when one enters a Gothic cathedral. Actually this one was my favorite. It was all made out of cut pieces of felt and very intricate.
Dan's favorite was this dude all decked out in leather.
This one seemed steampunk in style to me. It's made out of wood.
They were all pretty weird - like the crazy fashions seen on a Paris runway.
While the EMP has a lot to see, we did not pay the extra for the Star Trek exhibit, which in all honesty, would probably have been the one thing that would have interested everyone in our group. The Sound Lab would have also been an engaging exhibit to explore as there were small sound rooms (probably a dozen or so) with different instruments and headphones to hear while you played, but this area was super crowded and all the rooms had wait lines.
The EMP is located right at Seattle Center, along with the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center, Seattle Children's Museum, the International Fountain. the new Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum and the monorail.
There is so much to see and do in one location. Consider buying a City Pass to reduce your cost if you want to visit more than one attraction.
One last note about the EMP. I personally would not recommend it for younger viewers. The Horror section is for ages 13 and up, but I didn't even let any of my older kids go in to see that exhibit. (Really, what's the point of viewing imagery of slasher movies?!) Some of the sci.-fi. stuff is a little startling and unnerving, and could be a little scary for youngsters. The fantasy section has some references and imagery of witchcraft. I definitely felt like I had to be very mindful of the things they saw, both for our own family convictions, and knowing that my children are quite sensitive. For younger children I would recommend either the MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) or the Seattle Children's Museum instead. Keep the EMP for older audiences.
So - that was our visit to the EMP, and my personal review.
Do you like to visit museums? Which is your favorite?
Happy summer adventuring.
* * * I linked with Tauni Everett and Sugar Bee Crafts and Thursday Favorite Things