Vacationing in Seattle this week, I was advised by my thoughtful girlfriend (who loves it when I mention her in blog posts!) to check out Seattle's Exploring Music Project Museum, or EMP. Located under the shadow of the Space Needle (at least on days when there's enough sun to cast any shadows), the EMP is kind of a funny little museum, dedicated not only to the obvious arena of popular music (particularly rock), but also to science fiction and popular culture. Over time, these latter two elements seem to have been toned down, but frankly that's alright with me: music is one of my great loves, and I was genuinely excited to go exploring that field, and maybe get a little sci-fi bonus at the end.
The museum closes at five each day (which is something of a crock), so I didn't get to quite do everything I wanted. Among other things, I left a potentially very interesting display space on the technology behind the movie Avatar largely unexplored. But I had a great time; apart from the typical museum fare, there were plenty of interactive installments that made the place seem a lot more adventurous and fun. With my terrible camera phone in hand, I thought I'd share the highlights with you, my loyal readers. Do check out this place if you're ever in town, and give yourself lots of time to explore.
did the moonwalk. That's also the very jacket he wore, but the placard doesn't say much about that. Where the pillow fits in, I'm not too sure, but it suits the glove tremendously. The glass case holding these artifacts just sort of sits in the foyer, devoid of context. But what can you do, as a glove and a jacket do not an exhibit make?
Oh, and also there was science fiction stuff! Mostly snippets and interviews with fellows like Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, among other authors of much note. There was also a clip of Nichelle Nichols talking about the first interracial kiss on television in that episode of Star Trek. Between that and the story about her and Martin Luther King Jr, I wonder if anyone ever asks her about anything else.
This is, in some ways, a really cool idea, so I don't want to criticize it too much. Inviting museum goers to respond to the exhibits, and displaying those responses, is an interesting way to make the experience more interactive. But lavishing all this special attention on Nirvana seems to take things into the realm of the creepy. One testimonial I saw ended with a kid remarking that what he said "probably sounded kind of stupid." After reading all the notes on the wall detailing Cobain's complicated relationship with the media and the music industry, I can't help thinking he might say the same thing.
cultural wasteland of infinite despair. Stations like this, however, are reminders that a pulse was really beating in the culture after all. I much prefer the "alternative" to the "punk," but there's a really good case here that they shared a common cause.
I really kind of regret not allotting more time to that section, because the hands-on exhibits are usually the most fun at places like this, and it would be pretty fun to have a little record of my bass-playing skills to share with the world. But with time running out, there was still one major exhibit I wanted to see...