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Museum of Pop Culture

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(Redirected from EMP Museum)
View of MoPOP from Seattle Center with the monorail traveling through it
Established2000; 24 years ago (2000)
Location325 5th Avenue N
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Coordinates47°37′17″N 122°20′55″W / 47.6215°N 122.3486°W / 47.6215; -122.3486
TypePopular culture, music, science fiction, video games
Websitewww.mopop.org Edit this at Wikidata
Monorail tracks going through the MoPOP building

The Museum of Pop Culture or MoPOP is a nonprofit museum in Seattle, Washington, United States, dedicated to contemporary popular culture. It was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000 as the Experience Music Project. Since then MoPOP has organized dozens of exhibits, 17 of which have toured across the U.S. and internationally.

The museum—formerly known as Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (EMP|SFM) and later EMP Museum until November 2016—has initiated many public programs including "Sound Off!", an annual 21-and-under battle-of-the-bands that supports the all-ages scene; and "Pop Conference", an annual gathering of academics, critics, musicians, and music buffs.

MoPOP, in collaboration with the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), presents the Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival which takes place every winter. Since 2007, the MoPop celebrates recording artists with the Founders Award for their noteworthy contributions.

Exhibits and activities[edit]

Nighttime view of MoPOP
Guitar sculpture at MoPOP

MoPOP is home to numerous exhibits and interactive activity stations as well as sound sculpture and various educational resources:

  • A 140,000-square-foot (13,000 m2) building, designed by Frank O. Gehry, housing several galleries and the Sky Church, which features a Barco C7 black package LED screen, one of the largest indoor LED screens in the world.[1]
  • Exhibits covering pop culture, from the art of fantasy, horror cinema, and video games to science fiction literature and costumes from screen and stage.
  • Interactive activities are included in galleries like Sound Lab and On Stage where visitors can explore hands-on the tools of rock and roll through instruments, and perform music before a virtual audience.
  • IF VI WAS IX, a guitar sculpture consisting of more than 500 musical instruments and 30 computers conceived by British exhibit designer Neal Potter and developed by sound sculptor Trimpin.[2][3]
  • The world's largest collection of artifacts, hand-written lyrics, personal instruments, and original photographs celebrating the music and history of Seattle musician Jimi Hendrix and the band Nirvana.
  • Educational resources including MoPOP's Curriculum Connections in-museum workshops and outreach programs; STAR (Student Training in Artistic Reach); Creativity Camps for Kids; Teen Artist Workshops; Write Out of This World, an annual sci-fi and fantasy short story contest for 3rd to 12th graders; and the Hip-Hop Artist Residency.
  • Public programs such as MoPOP's Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival, Pop Conference, the Youth Advisory Board (YAB), and Sound Off!, the Pacific Northwest's premier battle-of-the-bands.

MoPOP was also the location of the first NIME workshop's concert and demo program. This subsequently became the annual International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression, a venue for research on music technology.

Science Fiction Museum[edit]

The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame was founded by Paul Allen and his sister Jody Patton, and opened to the public on June 18, 2004. It incorporated the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame which had been established in 1996. The museum was divided into several galleries with themes such as "Homeworld", "Fantastic Voyages", "Brave New Worlds", and "Them!", each displaying related memorabilia (movie props, first editions, costumes, and models) in large display cases, posters, and interactive displays. It was said about the museum that "From robots to jet packs to space suits and ray guns, it's all here."[4]

Members of the museum's advisory board included Steven Spielberg, Ray Bradbury, James Cameron, and George Lucas. Among its collection of artifacts were Captain Kirk's command chair from Star Trek, the B9 robot from Lost in Space, the Death Star model from Star Wars, the T-800 Terminator and the dome from the film Silent Running. Although the Science Fiction Museum as a permanent collection was de-installed in March 2011, a new exhibit named Icons of Science Fiction opened as a replacement in June 2012.[5][6] At this time the new Hall of Fame display was unveiled and the class of 2012 inducted.[7][8]

Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame[edit]

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame was founded in 1996 by the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society and the Center for the Study of Science Fiction (CSSF) at the University of Kansas (KU). The chairmen were Keith Stokes (1996–2001) and Robin Wayne Bailey (2002–2004). Only writers and editors were eligible for recognition and four were inducted annually, two deceased and two living. Each class of four was announced at Kansas City's annual science fiction convention, ConQuesT, and inducted at the Campbell Conference hosted by CSSF.[9][10]

The Hall of Fame stopped inducting fantasy writers after 2004, when it became part of the Science Fiction Museum affiliated with the Museum of Pop Culture, under the name "Science Fiction Hall of Fame". Having inducted 36 writers in nine years, the organization began to recognize non-literary media in 2005.[9] It retained the quota of four new members and thus reduced the annual number of writers. The 2005 and 2006 press releases placed new members in "Literature", "Art", "Film, Television and Media", and "Open" categories, one for each category.[11][12] In 2007 and 2008, the fourth inductee was placed in one of the three substantial categories.[13][14]

MoPOP de-installed the Science Fiction Museum in March 2011. When the "Icons of Science Fiction" exhibition opened in June 2012, a new Hall of Fame display was unveiled and the class of 2012 was inducted.[5][6][7]

Nominations are submitted by the public, but the selections are made by "award-winning science fiction authors, artists, editors, publishers, and film professionals."[15]

MoPOP restored the original name online during June 2013 and announced five new members, one daily, beginning June 17, 2013. The first four were cited largely or wholly for science fiction works, however the final one was J.R.R. Tolkien, who was "hailed as the father of modern fantasy literature".[16]

Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inductions[9][17][edit]

20th anniversary[edit]

In 2016, the Hall of Fame's 20th anniversary year, the scope was changed again to include not only creators, but creations (from such genres as Cinema, Television and Games), with two examples. A total of 20 additional inductees in both categories were also announced:[29][22]

The class of 2023 brought the number of members to 109, which includes the 20 additional inductees added in 2016.

In November of 2016, the museum changed its name from the Experience Music Project Museum to the Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP for short.[30]


The Sky Church
An exterior view of the building

MoPOP is located on the campus of Seattle Center, adjacent to the Space Needle and the Seattle Center Monorail, which runs through the building. The structure itself was designed by Frank Gehry and resembles many of his firm's other works in its sheet-metal construction, such as Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Gehry Tower. Much of the building material is exposed in the building's interior. The building contains 140,000 square feet (13,000 m2), with a 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) footprint. The name of the museum's central Sky Church pays homage to Jimi Hendrix. A concert venue capable of holding up to 800 guests, the last structural steel beam to be put in place bears the signatures of all construction workers who were on site on the day it was erected. Hoffman Construction Company of Portland, Oregon, was the general contractor, while Magnusson Klemencic Associates of Seattle were the structural engineers for the project.[31]

Design by Frank Gehry

Even before groundbreaking, the Seattle Weekly said the design could refer to "the often quoted comparison to a smashed electric guitar." Gehry himself had in fact made the comparison: "We started collecting pictures of Stratocasters, bringing in guitar bodies, drawing on those shapes in developing our ideas."[32] The architecture was greeted by Seattle residents with a mixture of acclaim for Gehry and derision for this particular edifice. British-born, Seattle-based writer Jonathan Raban remarked that "Frank Gehry has created some wonderful buildings, like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, but his Seattle effort, the Experience Music Project, is not one of them."[33] New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp described it as "something that crawled out of the sea, rolled over, and died."[34] Forbes magazine called it one of the world's 10 ugliest buildings.[34] Others describe it as a "blob"[35] or call it "The Hemorrhoids".[33] Despite some critical reviews of the structure, the building has been called "a fitting backdrop for the world's largest collection of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia."[36] The building's exterior, which features a fusion of textures and colors including gold, silver, deep red, blue and a "shimmering purple haze,"[37] has been declared "an apt representation of the American rock experience."[38]


The museum has had mixed financial success.[39][40] In an effort to raise more funds, museum organizers used Allen's extensive art collection to create a 2006 exhibit at the museum entitled DoubleTake: From Monet to Lichtenstein.[41] The exhibit included Roy Lichtenstein's The Kiss (1962), Pierre-Auguste Renoir's The Reader (1877), Vincent van Gogh's Orchard with Peach Trees in Blossom (1888), Pablo Picasso's Four Bathers (1921) and several works of art from Claude Monet including one of the Water Lilies paintings (1919) and The Mula Palace (1908).[42] Since then the museum has organized numerous exhibitions focused more specifically on popular culture, such as Sound and Vision: Artists Tell Their Stories, which opened February 28, 2007. This brought together both music and science fiction in a single exhibit, and drew on the museum's extensive collection of oral history recordings.[43] The museum's recent exhibitions have ranged from horror cinema, video games, and black leather jackets to fantasy film and literature.

Founders Award[edit]

Since 2007, the Museum of Pop Culture's Founders Award has celebrated artists whose "noteworthy contributions continue to nurture the next generation of risk-takers". The annual benefit gala is key in funding the museum's educational programs, community engagement, and exhibitions.[44] In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the gala had to be cancelled and for the first time ever, the event was made free to the public, streaming online on December 1, 2020, as MoPOP honored Seattle's own Alice in Chains.[45] The benefit streaming raised more than $600,000 for MoPOP in its first night. A compilation featuring highlights from the tribute was made available for streaming on Amazon Music.[46]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Frank Hammel. "PLSN - Seattle's EMP Equipped with High-Res LED Display for Sky Church Music Venue". plsn.com. Archived from the original on September 29, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  2. ^ "Neal Potter Design - Masterplanning". Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved February 6, 2016. During 1997 Neal worked alongside Frank Gehry Architects and the EMP curatorial team to establish a masterplan for the attraction. The detail design was undertaken locally. Originally called "The Collision Sculpture", the point of collision of different genres of music to create rock and roll. A living electronic sculpture as relevant today as it might have been in 1955
  3. ^ "If Vi Was Ix". Archived from the original on February 2, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2016. More than 500 musical instruments and 30 computers were used to create IF VI WAS IX. Created by Seattle-based sound sculptor, Trimpin, IF VI WAS IX is equipped with earphones that allow audiences to tune into the various musical permutations performed.
  4. ^ "Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame". Travel Guides: Seattle. The New York Times. July 7, 2009. Archived July 7, 2009. Retrieved 2013-04-27. Footer: "Content Provided by Frommer's Unlimited. Excerpted from Frommer's Seattle 2009 © 2009  [ — space — ]  Powered By Frommers".
  5. ^ a b Kareiva, Celina (January 19, 2012). "Coming to EMP: Hendrix, AC/DC — and some leather, too". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Guide to EMP's 'Icons of Science Fiction'". CBS Seattle. May 22, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c "Science Fiction Hall of Fame: EMP Museum Announces the 2012 Science Fiction Hall of Fame Inductees". EMP Museum (empmuseum.org). Version 2011–2012 at Internet Archive. Archived July 22, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  8. ^ "Science Fiction Hall of Fame". EMP Museum (empmuseum.org). Archived May 31, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  9. ^ a b c "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame" Archived May 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine (official website to 2004). Retrieved 2012-04-25.
  10. ^ "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame". 2005(?). Center for the Study of Science Fiction (sfcenter.ku.edu). University of Kansas. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  11. ^ a b "It's Official! Inductees Named for 2005 Hall of Fame Class". Press release March 24, 2005. Science Fiction Museum (sfhomeworld.org). Archived March 26, 2005. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
  12. ^ a b "Presenting the 2006 Hall of Fame Inductees". Press release March 15, 2006. Science Fiction Museum (sfhomeworld.org). Archived April 26, 2006. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  13. ^ a b "Science Fiction Hall of Fame to Induct Ed Emshwiller, Gene Roddenberry, Ridley Scott and Gene Wolfe". Press release March/April/May 2007. Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (empsfm.org). Archived October 14, 2007. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  14. ^ a b "2008 Science Fiction Hall of Fame Ceremony Tickets On Sale May 15". Press release April/May 2008. Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (empsfm.org). Archived May 10, 2008. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  15. ^ a b "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame" Archived February 7, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. EMP Museum (empmuseum.org). Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  16. ^ a b "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame". [June 17 to 21, 2013]. EMP Museum (empmuseum.org). Archived June 23, 2013. Retrieved 2014-07-21.
  17. ^ "Science Fiction Hall of Fame". Science Fiction Awards Database (sfadb.com). Mark R. Kelly and the Locus Science Fiction Foundation. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  18. ^ "EMP|SFM Announces its 2009 Science Fiction Hall of Fame Inductions". Press release 2009(?). Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (empsfm.org). Archived August 14, 2009. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  19. ^ "Science Fiction Hall of Fame". [Quote: "EMP|SFM is proud to announce the 2010 Hall of Fame inductees: ..."]. Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (empsfm.org). Archived March 25, 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  20. ^ "Science Fiction Hall of Fame". [Quote: "EMP is proud to announce the 2011 Hall of Fame inductees: ..."]. May/June/June 2011. EMP Museum (empmuseum.org). Archived July 21, 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  21. ^ "2015 SF&F Hall of Fame Inductees & James Gunn Fundraiser". June 12, 2015. Locus Science Fiction Foundation (locusmag.com). Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  22. ^ a b "2016 SF&F Hall of Fame Inductees". Locus. Locus SF Foundation. January 17, 2017. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  23. ^ "Stan Lee and J.K. Rowling to Be Inducted into Science Fiction & Fantasy Hall of Fame". ComicBook.com. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  24. ^ "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame: 2017 Inductees". MoPOP. Archived from the original on June 15, 2018. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  25. ^ "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame Nominations Now Open". MoPOP. 10 April 2020. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  26. ^ "MoPOP Announces Its Next 'Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame' Class". MoPOP. July 2020. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  27. ^ "MoPOP Announces 'Science Fiction + Fantasy Hall of Fame' Class of 2021". MoPOP. 3 January 2022. Retrieved March 25, 2022.
  28. ^ "MoPOP Announces 'Science Fiction + Fantasy Hall of Fame' Class of 2023". 29 June 2023.
  29. ^ "Science fiction Hall of Fame". SFE The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  30. ^ Daniels, Chris (November 15, 2016). "Experience Music Project gets new name: MoPOP". KING5 News. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  31. ^ "Experience Music Project" (PDF). modernsteel.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 13, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  32. ^ Downey, Roger (February 18, 1998). "Experience This!". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved October 22, 2006. Archived May 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ a b Raban, Jonathan (April 4, 2004). "Deference to nature keeps Seattle from becoming world-class city]". Seattle Times. Retrieved November 24, 2006.
  34. ^ a b Barnett, Erica C. (June 17, 2004). "EMPty: The Experience Music Project is a flop on all fronts—financial, musical, and intellectual". The Stranger. Retrieved November 24, 2006.
  35. ^ Cheek, Lawrence W. (September 26, 2006). "On Architecture: Corrugated steel is a nice wrinkle". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Archived from the original on January 20, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  36. ^ "Experience Music Project Review""Experience Music Project Review". Seattle. Fodor's Travel Guides (fodors.com). Archived 2010-08-18. Retrieved 2013-04-27.
  37. ^ Enlow, Clair (July 12, 2000). "Frank Gehry Rock Temple". Architecture Week 9.
  38. ^ Skelton, Lauren (2008). "EMP: Experience Music Project". Seattle.net. Archived 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2013-04-27.
  39. ^ Cook, John (January 8, 2002). "Recent layoffs at local companies: Experience Music Project"[permanent dead link]. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved October 22, 2006. [dead link]
  40. ^ Associated Press (March 22, 2005). "Experience Music Project still struggling five years later". USA Today. Retrieved October 22, 2006.
  41. ^ Farr, Sheila (November 29, 2005). "Paul Allen's Experience Art Project" Archived May 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Seattle Times. Retrieved October 22, 2006.
  42. ^ "Full List of Works Announced for Upcoming DoubleTake: From Monet to Lichtenstein Exhibition". Press release. March 21, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-22.
    "From Monet to Lichtenstein: Exclusively @ EMP". Press releases 2005/2006 (directory). Archived 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2013-04-27. http://www.doubletakeexhibit.org/press/index.asp?dt=032106. Retrieved September 29, 2007. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  43. ^ "The EMP|SFM Oral History Program". Programs / Oral History. Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum (empsfm.org). Archived 2007-09-21. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
    "The EMP|SFM Oral History Program". Programs / Oral History. EMP Museum (empmuseum.org). Archived 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  44. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Founders Award". MoPOP.org. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  45. ^ a b "MoPOP To Honor Alice in Chains With 2020 Founders Award". MoPOP.org. September 30, 2020.
  46. ^ "Music from Museum of Pop Culture's Founders Award Honoring Alice In Chains Available as Streaming Amazon Music Compilation". MoPOP.org. December 2, 2020.

External links[edit]