Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle

Monday, 26 December 2016 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Architecture, General, Museums, Exhibitions

© EMP|SFM Archive/cc-by-sa-3.0

© EMP|SFM Archive/cc-by-sa-3.0

EMP Museum is a nonprofit museum, dedicated to contemporary popular culture in Seattle. EMP Museum was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000. Since that time EMP has organized dozens of exhibits, 17 of which have toured across the US and internationally. The museum, which used to be known as Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (EMP|SFM), has founded 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. EMP, in collaboration with the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) presents the Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival, which takes place annually every winter at Seattle Cinerama Theater.

EMP 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, Sky Church boasts 70-foot ceilings, state-of-the-art sound and lighting, and a mammoth indoor HD LED screen. 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.

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

Monorail tracks © Reywas92/cc-by-sa-3.0 At night © Baileythompson/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Cacophony/cc-by-sa-3.0 © EMP|SFM Archive/cc-by-sa-3.0 Guitar sculpture © Alex Hendricks/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Guitar sculpture © Alex Hendricks/cc-by-sa-4.0
EMP Museum is home to exhibits, interactive activity stations, sound sculpture, and various educational resources.

  • A 140,000-square-foot (13,000 m2) building, designed by Frank O. Gehry, that houses 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.
  • Exhibits that cover pop culture, from the art of fantasy, horror cinema, and video games to science fiction literature and costumes from screen and stage.
  • Interactive activities 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 UK exhibit designer Neal Potter and developed by sound sculptor Trimpin.
  • The largest collections in the world of rare artifacts, hand-written lyrics, personal instruments, and original photographs celebrating the music and history of Seattle musicians Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix.
  • Educational resources including EMP’s Curriculum Connections in-museum workshops and outreach programs; STAR (Student Training in Artistic Reach); Creativity Camps for Kids; Teen Artist Workshops; and Write Out of This World, an annual sci-fi and fantasy short story contest for 3rd to 12th graders.
  • Public programs such as EMP’s Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival, Pop Conference, the Youth Advisory Board (YAB), and Sound Off! the Northwest’s premier battle-of-the-bands.
  • EMP was the site of the concert and demo program of the first NIME workshop, which subsequently became the annual International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression, a leading venue for cutting edge research on music technology.

The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame was founded by Paul Allen and 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 common themes such as “Homeworld,” “Fantastic Voyages,” “Brave New Worlds,” and “Them!” Each gallery displayed related memorabilia (movie props, first editions, costumes, and models) in large display cases, posters, and interactive displays to sketch out the different subjects. “From robots to jet packs to space suits and ray guns, it’s all here.” 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 T800 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, at which time the new Hall of Fame display was unveiled and the class of 2012 inducted.

Read more on Experience Music Project and Wikipedia Experience Music Project (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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