|Location||325 5th Avenue N|
|Type||Popular culture, music, science fiction, video games|
The Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP (previously called EMP Museum) is a nonprofit museum dedicated to contemporary popular culture. It was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000 as the Experience Music Project. Since that time MoPOP 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) and later EMP Museum until November 2016—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.
MoPOP, 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.
MoPOP is home to exhibits, interactive activity stations, sound sculpture, and various educational resources.
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 (below). 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.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame was founded in 1996 by the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society (Kansas City, Missouri) and the Center for the Study of Science Fiction (CSSF) at the University of Kansas (KU). The chairmen were Keith Stokes (1996–2001) and Robin Wayne Bailey (2002–2004). Only writers and editors were eligible for recognition and four were inducted annually, two deceased and two living. Each class of four was announced at Kansas City's annual science fiction convention, ConQuesT, and inducted at the Campbell Conference hosted by CSSF.
The Hall of Fame stopped inducting fantasy writers after 2004, when it became part of the Science Fiction Museum affiliated with MoPOP, under the name "Science Fiction Hall of Fame". Having inducted 36 writers in nine years, in 2005 it began to recognize non-literary media. 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", and "Film, Television and Media", and "Open" categories, one each. 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 exhibition "Icons of Science Fiction" opened in June 2012, a new Hall of Fame display was unveiled and the class of 2012 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 June 17. The first four were cited largely or wholly for science fiction but the last was J.R.R. Tolkien, "hailed as the father of modern fantasy literature".
The class of 2017 brings the number of members to 92, plus twenty extra added in 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the museum.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the museum in 2016, twenty other creators and works inducted into the Hall of Fame:
In November 2016 EMP Museum announced a rebrand to Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP. In an email to current and past members, CEO and Director Patty Isacson Sabee wrote:
Spanning science fiction, fantasy, horror, fashion, sports, and video games, MoPOP reflects our vision for curating, exploring, and supporting the creative works that shape and inspire our lives.
MoPOP 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. Hoffman Construction Company of Portland, Oregon, was the general contractor. Magnusson Klemencic Associates of Seattle were the structural engineers for the project.
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."
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 within the confines of the MoPOP. The exhibit was 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: Sound and Vision: Artists Tell Their Stories, which opened February 28, 2007, for example, 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.
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