In Seattle, where art seems to spring from the ground like weeds from sidewalk cracks, it takes a truly audacious project to generate as much attention as Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s contribution to the local art scene.
The 140,000-square-foot building of shimmering sheet metal designed by architect Frank Gehry resembles a smashed electric guitar and is called “the Blob” by locals. It contains the Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP, is a place where music, science fiction, and many other things meet.
Opened in 2000 as the Experience Music Project, with a special emphasis on legendary rock guitarist and Seattle native Jimi Hendrix, it struggled at first. In an attempt to bolster attendance, Allen added the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame to the south wing of the building in 2004. Originally treated as separate museums, they later merged to become EMP|SFM, attracting a curious mix of music lovers and sci-fi aficionados.
In 2011, the Science Fiction Museum was de-installed while a new sci-fi hall of fame was introduced and the entire venue changed its name to EMP Museum. Finally, in 2016, EMP Museum rebranded itself as MoPOP with a new vision for “curating, exploring, and supporting the creative works that shape and inspire our lives.”
Today, MoPOP features exhibits spanning such diverse areas as science fiction, fantasy, horror, fashion, sports, video games, and music.
Know Before You Go
MoPOP is located right next to the Space Needle and the Seattle Center Monorail runs right through it.