The Experience Music Project (later renamed the "EMP Museum") was conceived as a Jimi Hendrix-only museum (Seattle was Jimi's home town). But it quickly grew to embrace all of rock 'n' roll. Today its vast collection includes everything from Michael Jackson's original Moonwalk jacket to a sheet of Owsley blotter acid (lick-proof behind plexiglass) to a DEVO flower pot hat.
The "Project" is known even to non-rock lovers for its trippy exterior, which was created from a model made by cutting up a bunch of electric guitars and gluing them together. Inside, a guitar tornado sculpture spirals to the ceiling, while robot fingers continuously tap barely audible tunes on its hundreds of strings. The sculptor has to come back once a year to tune every one of them.
Despite the Project's broadened scope, there's still more Jimi stuff here than anywhere else on earth. A room of frequently-rotated exhibits includes his little book of phone numbers (open to Sly Stone's) and splintered shards from the three most famous guitars that he smashed. One of his gaudy, sweat-stained stage outfits was on prominent display when we visited, possibly a future source of "Resurrect Jimi" DNA.
Participation is encouraged at the Project. Visitors can make their own music in "Sound Lab," a leveled-playing-field recording studio with instruments that compensate for lack of ability. Rock theatrics can be experienced "On Stage," where wannabes create a band name ("The Chocolate Starfish"), pick a song from a list ("I Love Rock and Roll"), and then buy a photo or DVD of themselves strutting and jumping in front of a video of 7,000 screaming fans.