I visited the EMP Museum in Seattle, and long story short: it was amazing. This is a beautiful, modern museum with exhibits on music, sci-fi, and pop culture that are interesting and relevant for people of all ages.
First, check out this building! I took so many photos just of the building itself because there is some truly innovative architecture and many different materials used.
If you go, make sure to ride the monorail from Seattle Center to Westlake Center; the EMP is built around the track and gives a very cool view.
On to the current exhibits. These were all interesting and impressively designed- you really feel enveloped by the subject in some of these, as EMP creates a whole atmosphere, not just displays objects.
Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds
This is a special exhibit that costs extra but is well worth it, even if you’re not particularly a Trekkie. Fans may appreciate artifacts more- the Gorn!- but the information about the history and philosophy of the show is valuable to all.
From the EMP website: Fifty years after a show with modest ratings called Star Trek first aired, its stories continue to echo worldwide. Its famous opening line, “To boldly go where no one has gone before…” encapsulates the heart of this iconic series: the dare to hope for a better world. As part of the franchise’s 50th anniversary celebrations, Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds presents the phenomenon, its enduring impact on our culture, and how Star Trek has inspired people to imagine, explore, and create.
Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction
Onward to their permanent sci-fi exhibit. This shows a huge range of pieces from different sci-fi movies and contemplates the way they reflect and guide our real world. When you enter, a sign states, “YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE SPACE ARK. This craft has been traveling the cosmos for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. It has visited many other worlds, gathering strange and unusual objects. It has also visited future Earths and alternate Earths where history took a different course. We do not know who made this craft. It is fully automated, with no crew. Its mission, apparently, is to travel, observe, and collect. Now it has arrived here to share its discoveries.”
How poetic, right? And this is another reason the EMP is so interesting- it’s very immersive. Why just put all of these pieces in a room? Why not make the entire exhibit an ark, a record of artifacts, drawing guests into a sci-fi world? There’s even an area where you can fly the ship, discover and name a star, then get your picture taken.
Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film
Full disclosure: I am a baby when it comes to horror films. I rarely watch anything scary. Yet I really enjoyed this exhibit on the psychological appeal of horror, its role in cinema and culture, and the tools film uses to achieve desired effects. This is another exhibit that is immersive- it’s dark with red tinted lighting and a labyrinth of nooks in the center of the room playing different films. Lots of cool props and a some interactive components, like a game, a screaming booth, and stations to listen to film scores and sound effects.
These are just a few of the exhibits. There’s also World of WearableArt, which was very funky and intriguing; Indie Game Revolution, which asserts that “the definition of a video game is expanding, making room for many different types of experiences” and allows visitors to play some; Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic, which explores character archetypes and had artifacts from some great films; 55 guitars on display chronologically in Guitar Gallery: the Quest for Volume; you can learn about the grunge revolution in Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses; Jimi Hendrix’s travel items, rare interviews, and artifacts are in Wild Blue Angel: Hendrix Abroad 1966- 1970; and We Are 12 about the Seattle Seahawks.
Lastly, there’s an amazing sculpture called IF VI WAS IX by Trimpin. 500 instruments, 30 computers, robotic guitars that play 1 string at a time joining others to make a chord, and headphones so visitors can listen to the resulting music. It is massive.
If you’re between 13 and 19, sign up for TeenTix to get into the EMP Museum (and tons of other cool arts and cultural locations) for just $5. On Thursdays, you can bring a friend or parent and they’ll get in for $5 too. To upgrade and include Star Trek it will still cost another $5 per person.
Here’s the EMP website.
Follow me on Instagram! I posted lots of photos from the museum.