Saved: February 12th 2013January 19th 2009
Another Frank Gehry Masterpiece
EMP was designed by Frank Gehry, and houses a great collection of Elvis, Hendrix, and Northwest music.
Kudos to Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, for spending some of his considerable wealth on the Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle. No visit to Seattle is complete without a visit to EMP, particularly if you are a fan of rock and roll music, or a history lover of both the Northwest music scene and some famous Seattleites. Many of the pieces in EMP are from Paul Allen's private collection, including Elvis, Jimi, and Bob Dylan.
Since EMP opened in 2000 and the Science Fiction Museum (SFM) in 2004, EMP·SFM has welcomed more than 4 million visitors through its doors. From its museum planning stages in 1998 through 2007, EMP·SFM has been a key economic driver among Seattle nonprofit arts and culture organizations, with combined EMP·SFM institutional expenditures and EMP·SFM audience-member spending resulting in $580 million dollars of local economic impact. EMP·SFM is housed in a 140,000 square foot Frank O. Gehry-designed building. This spectacular, prominently visible structure has the presence of a monumental sculpture set amid the backdrop of the Seattle Center.
To design the building, Gehry looked to music for his inspiration. A classical music fan, Gehry wanted to understand rock 'n' roll so he traded in
Can you count the number of guitars here at EMP? It also has the one Hendrix burned at Woodstock.
his Bach for Hendrix and took a trip to the neighborhood guitar store. Gehry bought several electric guitars, took them back to his office and cut them into pieces. The guitar pieces were the building blocks for an early model design. Influenced by the colors in the early model, Gehry's final design brightly displays the red and blue hues of electric guitars.
If you made a typical steel guitar "E" (first) string from the steel in EMP·SFM, it would be 1.6 million miles long — enough to circle the Earth 65 times. If you made it into the lightest banjo string, you could stretch it 1/4 of the way to the planet Venus. The data cable installed in the building could wrap around the earth!
Experience Music Project (EMP) is dedicated to the exploration of creativity and innovation in popular music. By blending interpretative, interactive exhibitions with cutting-edge technology, EMP captures and reflects the essence of rock ‘n’ roll, its roots in jazz, soul, gospel, country and the blues, as well as rock’s influence on hip-hop, punk and other recent genres. Visitors can view rare artifacts and memorabilia and experience the creative process by listening to musicians
Jimi Was Here
Everything Hendrix is here, including great letters he wrote to his Dad when he was a youngster, and when he was in the Army.
tell their own stories.
Two of the more interesting permanent exhibits are:
Northwest Passage, which traces the development of the Northwest music scene, from its beginnings as a small, isolated community to its status during the grunge years as the center of the rock universe. This includes many Northwest groups like Pearl Jam, The Ventures, The Kingsmen, and Paul Revere and the Raiders.
Guitar Gallery: The Quest for Volume traces the development of the guitar as it became larger, went electric, and finally came to dominate the stage as the signature instrument of rock 'n' roll.
This collection will make you want to go out and buy one yourself.
Previous exhibits include: Elvis, Beatle mania, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, several Jimis, The First Decade of Hip Hop, Nirvana, Disco, Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, The Music of Disney, and Sweet Home Chicago.
Besides the obvious music and artists, EMP also produces a myriad of educational programs for schools, families, and adults. And a variety of special programs fill the calendar with jazz nights, oral history, and family nights. Membership can be purchased on line or at the EMP itself. We have been members for several years now.
A few things stood out to me. First, EMP contains the letters from J. Edgar Hoover to radio stations across the country, warning them not to play the Kingsmen's version of Louie, Louie. He insisted the words were obscene, and threatened their licenses for playing the song. Later, we found out from the Kingsmen themselves, that both verses are the same, and no dirty words are used.
Second, EMP has the letters Jimi Hendrix sent to his Dad in Berkeley, both during his youth and when in the Army. He actually became a paratrooper, before breaking his ankle, and receiving his discharge. Both stood out to me.
If you like or love music, it does not matter. This is a must stop no matter what. Go Jimi, go!