Exterior of Experience Music Project

One of My Fave Museums: Experience Music Project in Seattle

I’ve played cello since fourth grade and have been obsessive about music practically from birth (thanks Dad!), so I was dying to visit Experience Music Project museum in Seattle when I went there last month. Art and history museums are great, but I loved the idea of a hip museum that celebrates rock ‘n roll and pop culture. The building, designed by¬†Frank O. Gehry, is totally modern and beautifully bizarre. The museum opened in 2000. I enjoyed activities like visiting Pike Place Market, but visiting this museum was one of my favorite things we did.

They were hosting a new Nirvana exhibit called “Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses,” which had over 200 artifacts from the band and others in the Pacific Northwest music scene. Whether you like Nirvana or not, it truly was an innovative band at the time that kicked off a grunge movement with a punk vibe that spread nationwide. Even my husband, who hates their music, enjoyed exploring it. Their music truly resonated with me when I was in middle school and high school.

There was a small sound studio you could go into and record a video of yourself explaining how the band affected you, and then the recorded videos played on a screen that everyone could watch. They featured never-before-seen photos of the band, including many candid photos taken of them out having fun. They had video interviews from major musicians talking about Nirvana and how they were influenced by them. There was tons of interesting memorabilia, from record contracts to award statues to Kurt Cobain’s outfits to their instruments.

Jimi Hendrix, a native of the area, had a phenomenal exhibit there. It chronicled his life from beginning to end, and displayed some of his famous outfits, notorious smashed guitars, and memorabilia such as his personal journals. I am a huge fan of his and was obsessed with Woodstock ’69 in my major 1960s music phase in middle school, and seeing the actual guitar on which he played “Star Spangled Banner” made me weak in the knees. The exhibit had videos of the legend playing live shows and of musicians discussing his impact in the music scene.

There was a cool exhibit on guitars that showed the evolution of the instrument, with guitars from every era. I loved observing the evolution of this powerful instrument. The museum also had an interactive music section where you could play electronic drums, play on a keyboard, sing, mix songs, strum guitars, and more. It had an allotted amount of time for each activity so that others could participate, but each was occupied and there were lines, so I didn’t get to do any. The museum randomly doubles as a sci-fi museum, so I also saw a real-life prop from “Battlestar Galactica” on our way out. Here are some of my photos from my visit there:

Exterior of Experience Music Project
Outside of Experience Music Project

Experience Music Project

Experience Music Project in Seattle
View of the Space Needle from the outside entrance of EMP
Music video theater in Experience Music Project
Their massive theater plays music videos non-stop
Experience Music Project wall of instruments
This amazing pillar of instruments was two storeys tall
Experience Music Project in Seattle -- Jimi Hendrix Woodstock guitar
The guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock ’69. O.M.G. I almost died on the spot.
A guitar Jimi Hendrix smashed
A guitar Jimi Hendrix smashed
One of Jimi Hendrix's outfits at Experience Music Project
One of Jimi Hendrix’s outfits
Jimi Hendrix outfit at Experience Music Project
Another famous Jimi Hendrix outfit
Jimi Hendrix's journal at Experience Music Project
Jimi Hendrix’s journal
Nirvana artifacts at Experience Music Project
Prop from Nirvana’s In Utero tour
Kurt Cobain's outfit at Experience Music Project
One of Kurt Cobain’s outfits and Nirvana’s MTV award
Dave Grohl's drum kit at Experience Music Project
Dave Grohl’s drum kit
Nirvana's original record deal with Sub-Pop at Experience Music Project
Nirvana’s original record deal with Sub-Pop


Experience Music Project in Seattle
Me in heaven
Battlestar Galactica props at Experience Music Project
Battlestar Galactica props in the sci-fi part of the museum

When deciding what to do in Seattle, visiting this museum was a total no-brainer. I loved the city and all of the cultural things it had to offer. More west coast travel is definitely in my future.

Have you been to EMP? What did you think?

A generation 'y'er from Ireland, living his dreams and convincing you to do the same. Traveling through more than 90 countries around the world and showing no signs of slowing down