Back when I first was making plans to go up to Seattle for a night, one of the first to-dos that came to mind was the Experience Music Project (EMP) at the Seattle Center. In the 7th grade my school went to Seattle for a week for our fall trip and I thought it was the coolest place ever! EMP (I guess it’s official name is now just the initials) was started by Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder) and is part music museum, part audio-visual-all sensory-interactive experience. The website and promotion of the museum uses the words “Music + Sci-fi + Pop Culture.” From my 7th grade memories (many years ago) I remembered there being rooms to play different instruments and even the chance to “perform” on stage, plus exhibits on different bands.
The EMP is inside a building designed by Frank Gehry and is quite the visual experience itself. From the other Gehry buildings I’ve seen, it kind reminds me of several of his other buildings mashed together. There’s the curved lines and the straight lines and everything in between. There is the silver and gold I’ve seen on many of his buildings, but also combined with other brighter colors, patterns, and perceived textures I’ve seen on others. You can definitely spend time just walking around the outside of the building taking it all in.
All the things I remember the most from that trip back in middle school (band exhibits, the instrument “experimentation” rooms, and the On Stage experience) were there, but also a lot more. I almost feel like explaining all there is to do would go for pages and pages (or the equivalent in blog terms). I spent about three hours at EMP and could have spent a lot more time there. There’s so many different things to interact with, watch, play, etc. I’ll do this part blog and part photo blog. Luckily the three levels sort of act as categories. Below are a couple highlights that just scratch the service of all the EMP has to offer:
- 1st Floor/Exhibition-
- Game Of Thrones: Ascend The Wall- Yes you read that right. EMP had a Game Of Thrones exhibit! It’s a 4-D experience where you strap on virtual reality goggles and headphones (reminded me of my Virtual Boy I had as a kid) for a Game Of Thrones experience. As the title implies, you ascend the Wall. You’re not in there for long, but it’s a cool experience for GOT fans.
- The 12th Man exhibit- exhibit about the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl championship
- Theater- when I visited there were several films on Jimi Hendrix and the Seahawks/Super Bowl
- 2nd Floor/”Museum Floor”-
- Sky Church- a gigantic jumbotron with lights and special effects where different concerts are shown on the screen. Really cool experience for a music lover. Some of the bands playing weren’t even my usual type of music and I spent two chunks of time (15 minutes and 25 minutes) just sitting and taking it all in.
- A number of collections on Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana, plus a pretty extensive guitar gallery.
- Indie Game Revolution- exhibition sponsored by Nintendo where you can learn about indie game companies and play some of their games
- Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Exhibitions- this was technically on the 1st floor, but you could only access it from the 2nd floor (where it was listed on the map). Tons of memorabilia from different fantasy/sci-fi/horror movies, TV shows, books, and more.
- 3rd Floor/Interactive
- Music Video Exhibit- you learn about all sorts of different kinds of music videos. Videos span all time periods since videos were first created, so I think it would appeal to a lot of different ages. I went through this exhibit reasonably quickly (but still spent a lot of time here). Each different aspect of music videos they highlighted had a lot of different examples you could watch.
- Sound Lab- alcoves and private rooms with different instruments (guitar, piano, vocal, keyboard, bass, mixing) for you to play with. I didn’t spend a lot of time experimenting with things, although in the 7th grade I think I spent hours there!
- On Stage- gives you the chance to perform in front of virtual audience up on the big stage!
As you can see there are tons of things to do at EMP and for all sorts of interests, people, and ages. This would get one of my top recommendations for music lovers visiting Seattle!
EMP- 325 5th Avenue N Seattle, WA 98109