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How to Visit the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) Like a Local

April 12, 2017 By CityPASS

When the guitar became electric, the music world changed forever. Rock 'n' roll swept the nation and became a staple in Western pop culture. Certain films, television shows, video games, sports events, fashion trends, and historical events have created an everlasting buzz in mass media. Artists of the past shook society with their unique visions, and some of their contributions were just powerful enough to echo into the mainstream.

At Seattle's Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP, previously the EMP Museum), visitors can celebrate pop culture and its rock 'n' roll roots and delve into the sensational films, television shows, and music that made Trekkies immortal and Jimi Hendrix a legend.

Mesmerizing Architecture at the Museum of Pop Culture Seattle

There's plenty to see inside MoPOP, but you shouldn't enter without first taking a look at the impressive architecture that makes MoPOP just as attractive on the outside as it is on the inside. The 140,000 square foot Frank O. Gehry designed building is encased in 3,000 wavy stainless steel and aluminum panels, cut and shaped to wrap around the building almost like metallic tablecloths. The colors change depending on lighting and angle, so you'll see the museum differently with each visit.

MoPOP Exhibits

Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame Exhibit

The genres of science fiction and fantasy pull individuals away from reality and into a world unlike any other. Whether you're a Star Trek fan or an Indiana Jones enthusiast, you've chosen to follow stories of exploration and adventure both on this Earth and far away from it.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame Exhibit celebrates 108 creators and their works through interactive kiosks, films and artifacts. Get a close look at Luke Skywalker's severed hand from George Lucas' The Empire Strikes Back. See Indiana Jones' famous hat, never lost or left behind in his adventures. Honor the works and imaginations of Terry Gilliam, Jim Henson, Margaret Atwood, Guillermo del Toro, George Orwell and beyond in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

In addition, the Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction exhibit is home to Tim Burton's big-headed stop-motion aliens from the 1996 film Mars Attacks! and many more exciting treasures from the world's favorite sci-fi works, including Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, Battlestar Galactica, Terminator 2 and more. You can even pilot a spaceship in this exhibit and get a photo to commemorate your journey to the outer reaches of the galaxy!

Fantasy: World of Myth and Magic

Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! The fantastic worlds of The Wizard of Oz, The Princess Bride, Harry Potter, and The Chronicles of Narnia await you in this exhibit, where various installations and original props are on display. Make sure to check out the original blue gingham dress worn by Judy Garland herself in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz.

Scared to Death: Horror Exhibit

If you can't get enough of horror films, the Scared to Death exhibit is your perfectly brewed cup of fear. Featuring more than 50 props and costumes from films and television shows such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Pet Sematary, Bride of Frankenstein, and Dawn of the Dead, this exhibit will undoubtedly thrill and chill. See the famous red and green striped sweater worn by Freddy Krueger. Get a grisly look at the detail of the prop heads used in The Walking Dead, or take a walk around a vampire chapel. In addition to some fascinating props, this exhibit includes the oral histories of the genre's most influential directors.

Indie Game Revolution Exhibit

Gamers will love the Indie Game Revolution exhibit, which features the stories of over forty independent video game designers and developers and how they are changing the future of gaming. Games change every couple of months, so there's always something new to discover when exploring this unique space. The main gallery includes a sculpture made up of over 3,000 cubes, imitating the pixelated world of video games. Immerse yourself in this interactive exhibit and get your game on.

Sound Lab

For musicians and curious noisemakers alike, the Sound Lab is a great place to release your inner rock star and maybe even start a band!

This MoPOP exhibit invites you to pick up a guitar, lay down some beats, or sing your heart out in one of the 12 soundproof rooms they've dubbed studio pods. Learn about mixing or just experiment and find your sound. Get creative in the Jam Studio where you can record and download your songs. Learn about turntables in the DJ Hallway before you discover even more musical tools, and explore the science of sound in the Sound Lab.

Sensory-Friendly Mornings At MoPOP

MoPOP offers Sensory-Friendly Mornings, an opportunity for adults and families to experience the museum with lowered volume and light levels. Sensory-Friendly Mornings welcome all families that can benefit from a low-sensory museum environment before the museum opens to the public. Here are a few of the sensory-friendly accommodations you can find:

  • Free early access before the museum opens to the public
  • Advanced notice of what to expect during your visit
  • Lowered sound and lighting in galleries and Sky Church
  • Art activity from 8am-11am and low-sensory break spaces
  • Noise cancelling headphones are also available

Tips and Tricks for a Better Visit to MoPOP

Just as pop culture continues to change, so do the exhibits at MoPOP. Always check out the website before planning a visit in case an exhibit is no longer available. For example, the Bowie by Mick Rock exhibit celebrates the rise of Ziggy Stardust through a collection of photos, performance footage, and interviews, but is only available through March 11, 2018. Other exhibits have a limited timeline as well, including the Jim Henson and Star Trek exhibits.

To make the most of your visit and avoid crowds, arrive early in the day or closer to closing time, especially if you want a better chance of getting into one of the studio pods in the sound lab.

In general, you can expect to spend around 1.5 to 3 hours at the museum. If you're a fan of all things pop culture - sci-fi, music, and more -- you can easily spend five hours here. If you choose all day parking at any of the nearby lots, you're conveniently located close to the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, and the Pacific Science Center, so you can see it all in one day if you choose to and make the most of your parking.

Museum of Pop Culture Tickets & Prices

MoPOP tickets are cheaper when bought online through the MoPOP website, but Seattle CityPASS® tickets will save you on admission to the city's top five attractions, including MoPOP.

MoPOP Hours of Operation

For current hours of operation, please refer to the attraction's website.

Nearby Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in Seattle, we recommend finding lodging near Seattle's top attractions like MoPOP. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

Whether you're a music fan, intense sci-fi lover or all of the above, there's something for everyone at MoPOP. Visitors in the past have raved about the exhibits, many of which have changed over the years, but the eclectic mix of all things pop culture will not be found anywhere else.

Plan your visit today with Seattle CityPASS® tickets!

Header Image Copyright 2012 EMP Museum - Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)—Sound Lab

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