Seattle's most controversial architectural statement is the 140,000-square-foot complex designed by architect Frank Gehry, who drew inspiration from electric guitars to achieve the building's curvy metallic design. It's a fitting backdrop for rock memorabilia from the likes of Bob Dylan and the grunge-scene heavies.
Complementing the amazing "Roots and Branches" installation, a 35-foot tower made of guitars, this beautiful collection, starting
with a model from the 1770s and leading up to the Gibsons, Fenders, and Les Pauls of today, traces the history of guitar amplification.
Two permanent exhibits provide a primer on the evolution of Seattle's music scene. In "Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses" features rare and unseen artifacts and photography from the band, their crews and families. "Jimi Hendrix: An Evolution of Sound" illustrates Hendrix's rise from his early days in Seattle, including sound effects and mixing interactives, showing Hendrix as an innovator and forefather of modern recording technology.
EMP's interactive space has 12 mini-studio rooms where you can jam with friends on real or MIDI-compatible instruments. You can also channel your inner rock star in front of a virtual audience in the "On Stage" exhibit, complete with smoke, hot lights and screaming fans.
What was once a separate wing at EMP—the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame—is now a permanent exhibit. Here you'll find iconic artifacts from sci-fi literature, film, television, and art, including an Imperial Dalek from Doctor Who, the command chair from the classic television series Star Trek, and Neo's coat from The Matrix Reloaded.
EMP is a great place for teenagers. It regularly holds teen artist workshops in songwriting, rock band and sci-fi writing; check the education calendar for details. iPod Audio guides offer an enhanced experience, with music playlists and commentary about the exhibits.
As with most Seattle museums, EMP/SFM is least crowded early in the morning (before 11 am) and after 6 pm.
There's a café onsite, Pop Kitchen + Bar, serving fresh entrees and seasonal microbrews.