EMP Museum is no more. Like the smashed guitars, phasers, and dragons the Seattle Center museum houses, that name is now a relic of the past thanks to a new rebrand. Rather than honoring one of 2016's fallen by going with an unpronounceable symbol (perhaps a chaotic mess of lines representing the architectural swoops of Frank O. Gehry's visually loud and distinctive building), the Artist Formerly Known as EMP went with a straightforward and logical choice—Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP for short (insert Hansen joke here).
Considering the scope of what the museum houses under its roof these days (including exhibits on horror movies, wearable art, and video games), the name change makes a ton of sense. Basically, it's a way to avoid the following conversation that I've had dozens times with people planning to visit Seattle and looking for things to do:
"Well, there's also the EMP. It stands for Experience Music Project, 'cause music was the original focus and they have lots of Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix items. But the name's misleading, because they also have a sci-fi museum with Star Wars/Star Trek stuff, and horror movie props, and a cool indie video game exhibit, and..."
There's also the fact the audience eager to nerd out about general pop culture dwarfs those looking only for musical history. There's an inherent outsider elitism that still hovers around rock music, and that keeps some fans away from institutional structures like museums. Something just seems a degree or two off about seeing Kurt Cobain's possessions deified behind protective glass, but that feeling doesn't exist when looking at an old Spock costume or other pop culture artifacts from entities that always embraced pure consumer entertainment. Fans blissfully embrace their inner nerdiness when looking at Star Wars costumes or Lord of the Rings props. Undoubtedly, the MoPOP rebrand also seeks to reengage the large portion of dismissive Seattleites who maybe visited EMP once, figured they absorbed all they'll ever need from the place, and then never went back to check out newer exhibits.
There are reasons to be excited about 2017 at MoPOP, as the museum also announced a partial slate of upcoming exhibits. The lineup includes a photographic tribute to David Bowie courtesy his official photographer, a world premiere exhibit on Jim Henson and his imaginative mind, and a look at the artistic career of ingenious contraption-maker Rube Goldberg.
To celebrate its name change, MoPOP hosts a free Pop Culture Party this Saturday from 10am–5pm. And this party has has it all. Live music and dance performances? Check. Video games? Check. A Star Trek-themed game of Bingo, called Klingo? Duh. Complimentary manicures? Sure, why not? There’s a selfie scavenger hunt, that involves scenes straight out of fan favorites like Star Trek, Harry Potter, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, and more. Also on the docket: themed food and drink specials, airbrush tattoos, museum store discounts Funko Spock figures, a photo booth, and screenings of past Sky Church performances. The best part? Free admission includes access to all MoPOP galleries, including Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds.
So prepare for a year or two of telling people about something that's happening at MoPOP, getting a confused look, and then adding, "You know... EMP. They call it MoPOP now."
Pop Culture Party
Nov 19, Museum of Pop Culture, Free