Museum of pop culture
formerly Experience Music Project
The Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP, is a museum dedicated to contemporary popular culture, located next to the iconic Space Needle and sees over 750,000 visitors annually. It was founded by Seattle native and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000 as the Experience Music Project and was originally focused, almost exclusively, as a homage to Jimi Hendrix. After some financial struggles, it broadened its coverage to all things pop culture, and was rebranded in November 2016 as MoPOP; a new home to legendary pop culture artifacts and exhibitions dedicated to some of the biggest names in music, science fiction, sports, video games, fantasy and horror television and film. Several MoPOP exhibits have toured all over the world and the museum has also played a vital role in helping develop community artists with an extensive array of programs benefitting over 150,000 students each year.
The building that houses MoPOP, is in itself, an interesting piece of work. The façade comprises of a weird mixture of shapes, materials, textures and colors. The individual panels on the building change their appearance based on the light and where you’re looking, so the building itself seems to have a life of its own. Those among us that have a vivid imagination proclaim that it looks like a smashed up guitar; the more eloquent folks say it conveys the energy and fluidity of the music and other art it hosts; and folks like myself, simply refer to the 140,000SF structure where every possible permutation of pop culture collides, as “the Blob.”
Inside, “If VI Was IX”, a two-story guitar sculpture, undoubtedly takes center stage and was my favorite exhibit when I visited in 2015. Next come the largest collections in the world, of artifacts, hand-written lyrics, personal instruments, and original photographs of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana. Besides the exhibits, there are also several interactive activities such as Sound Lab and On Stage where visitors can experiment with instruments and display their talents for virtual audiences.
How to get there
Taking the Seattle Center Monorail is the easiest way to get to MoPOP if you’re coming from Downtown. Just hop on at Westlake Center and you’ll be there in 3 minutes. Visit their website for more information and to purchase tickets.
You can of course drive to MoPOP. They are in the Seattle Center at 325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109. Your best options for self-parking are likely at 5th Ave N & Harrison St, the Mercer Garage on 3rd Ave N & Roy St, First Ave N Garage between John and Thomas St. or Fifth Ave N Garage on 5th Ave N & Republican St.
What will it set you back?
Here are the standard walk-up ticket prices at the time of this post (April 2020).
Child (ages 0-4): FREE
Youth (ages 5-12): $21
Military (with ID): $24
Seniors (age 65+): $27
Student (age 13+ with ID): $27
Regular (age 13-64): $30
Advance tickets are available on their website. They are also $2 cheaper online!
Considering most everything is indoors, visiting MoPOP can be done at any time of the year. It is a very interesting place, with some one-of-a-kind exhibits and if you have a couple of hours to kill in the Seattle Center area after already visiting the Space Needle and Chihuly’s, I’d say MoPOP should be next on the list. However, I wouldn’t call this a must see for any first time Seattle goer, so if that’s you, use your time wisely.
And with that, I’ll let the man himself lead us out…..
Here’s who helped
While I ONLY write about places that I have visited, I get more information on these places from others, both for my edification and yours. Here are the online resources I used when writing this post.
- Atlas Obscura – “Museum of Pop Culture”: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/museum-of-pop-culture
- K5 News – “Experience Music Project Gets New Name: MoPOP”: https://www.king5.com/article/entertainment/experience-music-project-gets-new-name-mopop/281-352411386
- Museum of Pop Culture: https://www.mopop.org/
- Seattle Premier Attractions – “Museum of Pop Culture”: https://www.seattleattractions.com/seattle-attractions/emp-museum/
- Trip Advisor – “Museum of Pop Culture”: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60878-d146840-Reviews-Museum_of_Pop_Culture-Seattle_Washington.html
- The Stranger – “EMPty”: https://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=18487
- The Wayback Machine – “Engineering Awards of Excellence – Experience Music Project”: https://web.archive.org/web/20131113183543/http://www.modernsteel.com/uploads/issues/june_2001/0106_02_experiencemusic.pdf
- The Wayback Machine – “Seattle.net – EMP: Experience Music Project”: https://web.archive.org/web/20100615115657/http://seattle.net//entertainment/seattlemusic/musicarticles/emp/