Of all the great things we did in Seattle what I think I appreciated the most was the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum. The building itself is pure insane madness. It looks like the kinds of buildings you see in architecture books, not stuff you see in real life! Inside the “thing”, stuff gets even more serious. An inverted pyramid of worn out guitars faces you as you creep towards a gigantic hall filled with projections of music videos.
Further in you get to the core of the museum, namely the Nirvana exhibition. The fact that twenty years later a band like Nirvana is museum material is quite an odd thing on the one hand, but on the other, Nirvana is awesome so I guess that balances it well enough. The exhibit features lots of pictures, maps, commentaries and other artifacts spanning the entirety of Nirvana’s history, from Kurt Cobain’s crappy demo tapes to crushed guitars and completely WTF letters written by the band members. Being a somewhat very modest music collector myself (read: I steal set-lists, that’s about all) I could not help but absolutely love this exhibition. The whole Nirvana Story is presented in a really all-encompassing way with tons of information pertaining to every aspect of the band’s history. Basically, it’s a real must for every rock fan.
In the room next door, we found a really comprehensive presentation of the history of the Electric Guitar and the Electric Bass. Lots of precious artifacts were presented, including famous musicians’ instruments like Angus Young and Jimi Hendrix’s; together with ultra-rare experimental instruments from the thirties (the first electric basses looked really strange if you want my two cents worth).
We had a limited amount of time at the museum so we forgot about the Hendrix Exhibition and went directly into the Fantasy one. It’s something I really was looking forward to especially as I have been reading so much of that lately (I bought Game of Thrones II in Seattle too. Awesome book!) And I could not have been better served: The exhibition covered a very wide ground, covering material all the way from the Wizard of Oz to Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. The whole aisle was divided between different sections like the Magician’s tower or the Dragon’s lair but the core of the exhibit was the presentation of Fantasy through archetypal characters like the Barbarian, the Mage, the Paladin and such… Each archetype was illustrated by an example from some book or movie and most of those came with actual costumes or other artifacts: believe it or not but on display was David Bowie’s costume from Labyrinth. Total awesomeness! But that’s not all, just feet away from this already impressive Fantasy relic you could find no less than Cersei Lannister’s beautiful red dress and it’s as noble and refined as what you could have seen on the little screen. Linnea was so impressed by it that she wants to have her wedding dress modelled after that very dress! I just hope she’s not going to be as much of a scheming vixen as Cersei ;).
All in all, the Fantasy exhibition was absolutely great. We were both so happy to have been able to experience it. The only thing I was maybe a bit less enthused about was the interactive test to see what kind of archetype you were. To my dismay I actually got the archetype “Warrior Princess”…the only thing making it less lame was that Linnea got the same, but contrary to me, she was most pleased with her results.
In the same wing of the EMP there were also two parallels exhibits, this time pertaining to the genres of Horror and Science Fiction. Being a huge nerd, Linnea had to go check those out. Despite the fact that she had to object to a couple things here and there she was most pleased with the artifacts collection. Being a die-hard fan of Buffy, she started having convulsions when she saw that “Mister Pointy”, Buffy Summers’ favorite Vampire-killing device was there. But even more impressive, the museum had bought JACK TORRENCE’S FRIGGING AX!!!!! THE AX IN THE SHINING!!! RIGHT THERE!!!
Ahem, sorry about the all caps, such a level of epicness wasn’t expected at all, but it was quite the great surprise! Also, just minutes before we were due to leave the place we had the time to quickly go through the Science-Fiction room. A room filled with lots of rather retro stuff like the first incarnation of the evil robots (Daleks) from Doctor Who. While I personally never got this Anglo-Saxon thingie, I was pleased to see some great Goa’Uld artifacts from the Old Stargate SG-1 series (we all have our weaknesses don’t we?). While we both were quite off in our own varieties of Science-Fiction nerdiness, one artifact brought us back together: nothing less than commander Data’s Star Trek uniform from the Next Generation series! That discovery was absolutely epic and also the best way to end our long meanderings in this great museum!
Shortly thereafter Sarah came to pick us up to take us out for dinner at an Italian restaurant. How nice of her! The next day, though, it was already time to leave and we packed our thingies in our now overstuffed bags, ready to get back to Pennsylvania.
Text by Lyonel Perabo | | Photos by Linnea Nordström