Have you ever seen a place advertising, celebrating and promoting contemporary popular culture with great enthusiasm and without any decadent outcome? If not, you should visit the EMP Museum in Seattle, WA that empowers visitors and educates multigenerational audience. Their interactive, open and engaging formula invites to experiment and create with (almost) no limitations.
Text and picture by Joanna Wróblewska
Seattle is an interesting city, full of contradictions and contrasts. A mindful observer will be surprised by the massive number of young people living on the street versus impressive University of Washington campus, luxury shops, cars and expensive villas. On the other hand, it has a very peculiar atmosphere of a small town bothered by the lack of perspectives and depression. Maybe this is why it became a capital of alternative rock, in particular grunge, and many famous bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice in Chains. All of them were formed in that area. The city has not only plenty of legendary music venues, but also an extraordinary museum that takes us to the world of popular culture and teaches how to enjoy it.
“EMP is a leading-edge nonprofit museum, dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture” – EMP Museum
EMP Museum (Experience Music Project & Science Fiction Museum) was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000. It is a lovely modern building located just next to the Space Needle. In my opinion, it is the most interesting architecture to see in Seattle, so even looking at it from the outside is a great experience. I was both eager to enter the museum and afraid of being disappointed with its collection and exhibits. Finally, what I found there was an amazing experience of not only learning about music, but actually making it! On top of that, there where a couple of very well designed exhibitions on gaming, film and cartoons, not even mentioning an extraordinary exposition related to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. And yes, it is for everybody!
Come and learn
Exhibitions at EMP are extremely well designed, focusing on different aspects of contemporary popular culture. Personally, I had a chance to see Wild Blue Angel: Hendrix Abroad, 1966-1970; Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses; Indie Game Revolution; Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction; Can’t Look Away: the Lure of Horror Film and impressive What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones. They were all not only informative, but also visitor-friendly. Such exhibitions are a great resource of knowledge for scholars. It is a great place to start research on chosen aspects of music production, animation and film. Contacting the EMP is not a big deal, so take the advantage of connecting with the museum online and offline.
Play for hours
One of the most amazing areas of the EMP is the Sound Lab. At the Sound Lab, you can entirely focus on the creative process of experimenting with sound. Invite you inner musician to play for hours, alone or in a group! Sound Lab offers soundproof rooms and tools. All you need to start is a little bit of creativity and a lot of enthusiasm. It was a pleasure to look at folks playing guitars and drums, singing together or mixing music behind the closed studio doors. I felt like I can do it as well and decided to try immediately. It was a good, liberating experience, an eye-opener, a positive boost. At EMP I did something that I have never done before and I loved it.
Feel like a child
The thing is that at EMP you truly feel like a child. Nobody judges you or criticizes your attempts. There is only you and music (Well, and maybe some other visitors eager to unleash their creativity the same as you). Sounds like a crazy dream or an unreal story? I assure you that the EMP Museum is a actual place on earth.
So, how would it be to book a studio at SAE and make a real EMP-like experience out of it? I encourage you to experiment every day, week, month. Use the opportunity given to you by the SAE Institute and spend some time on just having fun in the studio. It is a very different thing that accomplishing an important project or working on an assignment. Creativity needs time and space to develop – feel inspired by the EMP Museum and give yourself a chance to play!
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