Seattle may be the only place in the world where Jimi Hendrix and Hello Kitty hang out together. The EMP Museum is home to exhibits on both iconic figures.
One of the first things people notice about the Experience Music Project Museum is the “instrument tornado.” It’s actually called “If VI was IX.”
“Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty” is a special exhibit at the museum that lasts through mid-May. The exhibit offers a look at more than 500,000 items covering two floors. The items range from the original coin purse to outfits based on the cartoon character.
Hello Kitty actually originated as a coin purse in 1975. It exploded around the world shortly afterward. Celebrities wear outfits based on the character; kids can carry lunch to school in hello kitty lunch boxes.
My favorite Hello Kitty artifact was a Godzilla figurine. It had Hello kitty’s face atop Godzilla’s body as she marched through a city.
The great Jimi Hendrix – a Seattle native – has a permanent exhibit at the EMP. It chronicles his short life and career as one of music’s best musicians. The younger generation may not be as familiar with him, but who doesn’t remember seeing footage of Hendrix playing the national anthem on his guitar at Woodstock. Legendary.
Hendrix’s exhibit is a simple one. Nothing flashy. It tells his story with a few artifacts and note placards. One of my favorite items was an acoustic guitar position in front of a painting of Hendrix.
A sound mixer from Hendrix’s recording studio is on display, as well as a TWA travel bag he used all the time.
Not to be left out, the museum offers a look at Seattle’s other major music presence – Nirvana. The permanent exhibit follows the careers of the band members, led by the late Kurt Cobain, from Seattle-area music wannabes to grunge rock stars.
I remember seeing pictures of Cobain in a cardigan sweater, which is featured in the display.
The history of guitars is highlighted in the Guitar Gallery. The museum has almost 300 guitars in its inventory, which about a hundred or so on display. The exhibit features instruments from the late 1700s through today.
Famous musicians’ guitars on display include Arlo Guthrie and Eric Clapton.
One thing I really like about the EMP Museum is that it covers two genres of entertainment – music and science fiction.
The Sci Fi section of the museum looks completely different from my last visit in 2010. Gone is the Planet of the Apes exhibit I loved. So, I count my lucky stars that Lisa, friends mark and Ron and I were able to see it then.
The museum is home to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Some of its famous inductees include Ray Bradbury, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Orson Welles.
Today, the “Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction” are explored. The exhibit uses more than 150 items to tell the stories of science fiction from films and television series. You can see items from Star Trek, Star Wars to Galaxy Quest and beyond.
People were checking out their navigational skills on a cockpit of a spaceship.
Who says only guys are science fiction geeks? These “geeks” were funny to watch at this control panel as they actually moved their hands to various instrument panels, as if flying the ship.
As you enter the exhibit, you are greeted by a Terminator model. The display included other body parts of the alien robot.
Star Wars was featured front and center with models of some of the movie series’ creatures, including a Jawa. The museum includes Star Wars’ light sabers once used by Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Darth Maul.
A Dalek from the late 1980s highlights a Doctor Who display.
Another favorite of mine was the Ghostbusters’ exhibit. Our family has been Ghostbusters fans since the original film was released. My youngest daughter was a huge fan as a kid. We would get her Ghostbusters toys as gifts. She had a proton back with trapper, as well as the famous car and figurines.
Phazers and other space weapons – dating to early films and series – were on display. It’s cool that these props have been maintained through the years.
Even “Back to the Future” made the museum’s exhibit. Three hover boards from the trilogy are on display.
The Sci Fi museum offers fans a look at why we like scary movies with “Can’t Look Away – The Lure of Horror Films.”
Simon Pegg’s shirt and tie are featured from “Shaun of the Dead.” This movie remains a family favorite.
“Alien” is represented with a life-sized model of the creature. Other props from the movies included a space station, ship and weapons.
A throwback to the 1980s’ version of “The Fly” included a model of the creature and a head of the character as he changes from human to insect.
I remember watching “Creature from the Black Lagoon” as a kid. The face mask of the creature is on display.
Gizmo from “Gremlins” is also on display.
If you are a fan of “The Shining,” perhaps you may be interested in a certain axe. “Heeere’s Johnny!” has to be on the most frightening lines ever uttered on the big screen.
Not to be left out, Jason Vorhees’ mask and machete are available from viewing. “Friday, the 13th” was once a trend setter for scary movies.
The Sci Fi museum takes it a little easier on our nerves with “Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic.” It takes a look at our interest in make-believe worlds – from The Hobbit to the Emerald City.
Visitors can check out a dragon, even petting it.
Costumes from movies “Wizard of Oz,” “The Princess Bride” and “Labyrinth” are on display.
Props include weapons from “Conan: The Barbarian,” “The Princess bride” and “The Lord of the Rings.”
One prop that really stood out to me was the helmet of a French soldier in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” As I looked at it, all I could think of (in a French accent, mind you) was “You don’t frighten us, English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called “Arthur King,” you and all your silly English K-nig-hts.”
I closed my visit to the EMP Museum with a walk through the “We Are 12” exhibit. It examines the Seattle Seahawks football team and the city’s love for the team. The exhibit includes the Super Bowl trophy the team won in the 2014 NFL title game.
The EMP Museum changes special exhibits a few times a year, so it’s a good place to check out on a regular basis when traveling to Seattle. I loved my time there and look forward to our next visit.
For more information on the museum, please visit www.empmuseum.org.
Disclaimer: My visit to the EMP Museum was courtesy Seattle CityPASS. However, all opinions and views are mine.