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Guitar tornado.

MoPOP: Museum of Pop Culture

Field review by the editors.

Seattle, Washington

The Museum of Pop Culture began as a Jimi Hendrix-only museum (Seattle was Jimi's home town). But it quickly grew to embrace all of rock 'n' roll, rebranding itself the Experience Music Project, with a vast collection of 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.

A further broadening of scope into the Museum of Pop Culture in 2016 threatened to obscure its origins, but even non-rock lovers can appreciate 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.

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. 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.

Included within the Museum of Pop Culture is the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, with a rotating collection of fantasy, horror, gaming, and comedy exhibits that can include everything from Dorothy's dress from The Wizard of Oz to John Cleese's helmet from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

MoPOP: Museum of Pop Culture

325 Fifth Ave. N., Seattle, WA
Next to the Seattle Space Needle, on the southwest corner of Fifth Ave. N. and Harrison St.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of FameScience Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Seattle, WA - < 1 mi.
World's Fair MonorailWorld's Fair Monorail, Seattle, WA - < 1 mi.
Space NeedleSpace Needle, Seattle, WA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Ghost Fleet of Navy Ships, Bremerton, WA - 15 mi.

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