Seattle's Museum of Pop Culture: A Guide for Visitors

Experience Music Project in Seattle Center
© Angela M. Brown (2008)
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Museum of Pop Culture

325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
Phone +1 206-770-2700

Experience Music Project - commonly referred to as EMP - is an interactive music museum featuring American popular music and rock 'n' roll. Located in Seattle Center, EMP is the brainchild of Paul Allen, Microsoft-cofounder and well-known figure in the Pacific Northwest. Allen's passion for all things Jimi Hendrix led to an extensive collection of Hendrix memorabilia. His initial desire to share this collection with the public grew in scope to become the Experience Music Project.

Located just north of downtown Seattle in Seattle Center, EMP is housed in a wild, freeform building designed by Frank O. Gehry. The exterior has sections comprised of blue and red painted aluminum and of stainless steel that has received purple, silver, and golden finishes. The museum's facilities include a full-service restaurant and a retail store, as well as a lounge featuring a happy hour. Seattle's Monorail line passes through the structure. Designed to represent the fluid nature of music, the unconventional appearance of the building has been the object of much controversy in the region. Everyone agrees, however, that the opportunity to "experience music" is a tremendous asset to the Seattle community.

What You Can See & Do at EMP
Today's EMP mission is to inform and inspire visitors of all ages about the roots and future of American music. While there, you'll be treated to a wide variety of interactive and multimedia experiences. You'll have the opportunity to view portions of EMP's collection of close to 80,000 artifacts, including stage costumes and instruments from such popular American music icons as Bob Dylan and Kurt Cobain. In addition to the regular exhibits and hands-on activities, there are typically one or two special exhibitions that focus on certain genres or artifacts. Workshops, kid's music programs, films, concerts, conferences, competitions, and lectures are scheduled throughout the year.

Among the museum's many attractions is Sky Church, a dramatic hall where a "video frieze" spans one large wall. You can't help but pause for a while to watch the huge wall of moving lights accompanied by music. You'll be able to try your hand at making music in EMP's Sound Lab, where individual stations quickly teach you to play guitar, drums, or keyboard. It's easy to lose all track of time as you jam by yourself or with friends. Other offerings include the special exhibitions, the Digital Lab, and a performance stage.

Food & Drink at EMP
Experience Music Project has an onsite, sit-down restaurant and lounge, POP Kitchen & Bar. open for lunch through happy hour, POP Kitchen serves salads, sandwiches, and burgers. The Bar serves a selection of cocktails, beer, wine, and small plates.

Experience Music Project website
325 5th Avenue N
Box Office: 206-770-2702

The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame is co-located with Experience Music Project; one admission ticket gets you into both attractions.

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Seattle's Museum of Pop Culture: A Guide for Visitors