The Museum of Pop Culture has long been on my Seattle to-do list. I finally got the opportunity to visit last March, while Dan was attending a work conference.
The Frank O. Gehry designed building is an eye-catcher, beckoning visitors to take a closer look. It's fun, uniquely shape with gorgeous iridescent glass. How could you not want to see what's inside?
Tickets were a little speedy (look at me, using my PNW lingo!) at twenty-eight dollars. I didn't realize it at the time, but if you book online, you can save two dollars. It literally pays to plan.
I did find the admission to be well-worth it for a museum that pays homage to all things pop-culture. The collection of movie props and costumes is amazing and the entire museum is immersive. It's very cool. It far exceeded all of my expectations.
I took the advice of the woman working at the info booth and headed to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. Among many amazing things, they had Harrison Ford's leather jacket and hat from the Indiana Jones films. I went back to check this out more than once. I'm a huge Indiana Jones fan and it was so cool to see it in person. Also memorable were props from the original Planet of the Apes and Blade Runner.
I didn't take pictures inside the museum. Photography is allowed, but I had a negative impression early in my visit. I noticed that everyone was queueing up to take a snap of the displays, usually selfies with the object, but that they were not taking the time to really look at the item. It was like a quick grab for pictures. It turned me off. I knew that I would be blogging about my visit, but I figured rather than worrying about taking pictures, I would just enjoy my time. In turn, I highly recommend that you visit the Museum of Pop Culture and leave your phone off. Just soak it all in and take the memories.
The Museum of Pop Culture was hosting a special exhibition- Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses.
Like many of my generation, I was a huge Nirvana fan in high school. I can remember hearing about Kurt Cobain's suicide and wearing my Nirvana tee-shirt ( Nevermind album cover) to play rehearsal the next day, a Saturday in eleventh grade. In a strange "this is the most LA thing that has probably ever happened to me" kind of way, I took an online poetry classes with Francis Bean Cobain a few years ago. Surreal.
Anyhow, the Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses was a small exhibit chronically their career. It included a bunch of memorabilia, included personal photos, primarily donated by band member Krist Novoselic. I enjoyed it, especially learning about the beginnings of the band. The highlight was observing as a French woman, about my age, explained Nirvana to her toddler. She was speaking in French, but I kept hearing the band members names as she pointed to items on display.
Another temporary music exhibit was devoted to Jimi Hendrix - Wild Blue Angel: Hendrix Abroad, 1966-1970. I know that Hendrix is an icon, but I'm only somewhat familiar with his music. I enjoyed learning about his career and seeing some of his outrageous costumes.
Next, I headed to Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic. This whole area was heavily themed to look like a castle and even had a dragon. My favorite part was seeing costumes from The Princess Bride, including Buttercup's dress. Among other things, the exhibit has items from The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings.
I love horror films, but I found it difficult to work up my courage to visit a temporary exhibit called Scared to Death. I walked in the front entrance alone and down a blood-splattered staircase with a sculpture comprised of Jason masks peering down at me. The lighting was dim and there was atmospheric sounds. At the bottom of the staircase, I spotted a warning sign. The exhibit was warned to be immersive and that scared me off. I was afraid that there might be scareactors in costume or other startle elements. I cannot handle being startled, so I bailed.
I went to the massive Star Trek exhibit, which was not scary! I've not watched many episodes of any of the Star Trek series, so much of this was lost on me. Although, I did recognize iconic things, like the Tribbles and it was cool to see the original flight deck. If you're a trekkie, this is a must see. It was two floors. much bigger than any other exhibit in the museum.
Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction has an amazing collection of props from just about every major Sci-Fi franchise that you can imagine. I loved the hover boards from Back to the Future and the robots from the Terminator Franchise. The even had props from my favorite sci-fi comedy, Mars Attacks. I think this was probably the most popular exhibit in the entire museum.
I lucked out. As I entered the Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction, I noticed that there was a quick passage to the horror section. I could peek in and I saw that the room was crowded and it didn't appear to have any startle elements. I tentatively walked inside.
I'm so glad that I didn't miss out. There were elements that might freak people out, such as walking through a maze of body bags. However, nothing jumpy. As with the other themed rooms, they had props from all of the famous horror films- except Saw, which as a Saw fan, left me feeling disappointed. Speaking of Saws, not "Saw", they did have a prop saw from Eli Roth's Hostel. The most grotesque props were a bunch of zombie heads from The Walking Dead, which were floating in a giant water tank.
I ended with an exhibit about indie video games. This did not hold my interest and I walked through it in five minutes. If you're a gamer, you'd probably love it. It was filled with different stations where you could play the games, mostly games I've never heard of.
The Museum of Pop Culture has a few common areas with cool elements. There is a multi-story sculpture comprised of guitars and a lounge area with an enormous screen where they play music videos. Speaking of music, there is an interactive exhibit where you can play different instruments and create. I'm not at all musically inclined, so I skipped this one.
I visited the museum on a Tuesday morning and it was absolutely packed with both school groups and tourists. Make sure to arrive when they open and plan your visit. Within the first hour of opening, the crowds were making it difficult to enjoy.
The Museum of Pop Culture should definitely be high on your list of things to-do in Seattle. It's in a great location; right next to the Space Needle and Chihuly Gardens. You can easily do all three attractions in a single day.
I'll end with this fun sign for the museum.