The Museum of Pop Culture or MoPOP is a nonprofit museum in Seattle, Washington, 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 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, 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 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 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.
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 leading venue for cutting-edge research on music technology.
Science Fiction Museum
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."
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. 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. In 2007 and 2008, the fourth inductee was placed in one of the three substantial categories.
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.
Nominations are submitted by the public, but the selections are made by "award-winning science fiction authors, artists, editors, publishers, and film professionals."
MoPOP restored the original name online during June 2013 and announced five new members, one daily, beginning 17 June 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".
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 of each being honoured. A total of 20 additional inductees in both categories were also announced. The class of 2017 brought the number of members to 92, plus 20 added in 2016 to celebrate the Hall of Fame's anniversary.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inductions
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." 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."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 building's exterior, 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."
The museum has had mixed financial success. 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. 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). 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. The museum's recent exhibitions have ranged from horror cinema, video games, and black leather jackets to fantasy film and literature.
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. 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. 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.
^Frank Hammel. "PLSN - Seattle's EMP Equipped with High-Res LED Display for Sky Church Music Venue". plsn.com. Archived from the original on 2013-09-29. Retrieved 2013-07-26.
^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-20. Retrieved 2016-02-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) 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
^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-02-02. Retrieved 2016-02-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) 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.
Kareiva, Celina (January 19, 2012). "Coming to EMP: Hendrix, AC/DC — and some leather, too". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
"Guide to EMP's 'Icons of Science Fiction'". CBS Seattle. May 22, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
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"It's Official! Inductees Named for 2005 Hall of Fame Class". Press release March 24, 2005. Science Fiction Museum (sfhomeworld.org). Archived 2005-03-26. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
"Presenting the 2006 Hall of Fame Inductees". Press release March 15, 2006. Science Fiction Museum (sfhomeworld.org). Archived April 26, 2006. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
"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 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
"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 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
"Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame" Archived 2016-02-07 at the Wayback Machine. EMP Museum (empmuseum.org). Retrieved 2014-06-27.
"Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame". [June 17 to 21, 2013]. EMP Museum (empmuseum.org). Archived 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2014-07-21.
^"Science fiction Hall of Fame". SFE The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
"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 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
"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 2010-03-25. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
"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 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
^Cook, John (January 8, 2002). "Recent layoffs at local companies: Experience Music Project"[permanent dead link]. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2006-10-22.[dead link]
^Associated Press (March 22, 2005). "Experience Music Project still struggling five years later". USA Today. Retrieved 2006-10-22.
^Farr, Sheila (November 29, 2005). "Paul Allen's Experience Art Project" Archived 2011-05-24 at the Wayback Machine. Seattle Times. Retrieved 2006-10-22.
^"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. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 7, 2009. Retrieved 2007-09-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
• "The EMP|SFM Oral History Program".
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• "The EMP|SFM Oral History Program". Programs / Oral History. EMP Museum (empmuseum.org). Archived 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2013-03-19.