The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) — Formerly known as the Experience Music Project (EMP) and the Science Fiction Museum — sits in the shadow of Seattle’s most famous landmark, the Space Needle. The other structures in the area generally follow the same pattern of 1960’s futurist architecture as they were built for the 1962 World’s Fair… one that would go on to inspire animator Iwao Takamoto when he designed the buildings for The Jetsons.
And on the edge of all that sweet futurist architecture… is the MoPOP. The building is supposed to resemble smashed electric guitars. Personally I think it looks like a deflated hot air balloon, especially when viewed from the I-5 freeway. It’s a rather pricey ticket — $30 a person to see Kurt Cobain’s checkbooks or Jimi Hendrix’s TWA bag? That said, I have also been with guests who have wept openly at the Nirvana display. My own personal favorite exhibit was the pie-plate flying saucer from Plan 9 From Outer Space, but I didn’t see it last time I went. (CORRECTION: Megara Justice Machine pointed out that this was actually a model kit that they painted silver.)
There’s currently a Marvel/MCU exhibit, and the costumes they made for Black Panther are stunning in real life.
The building has made it to several “Ugliest Buildings In the World” lists, including ones by Elle Decor, Travel And Leisure, and Business Insider. Choice comments: “This looks like the final project of a freshman architecture student.” “People have tried to describe it, and have come up with everything from ‘a multicolored blob’ to ‘open-heart surgery.’” “The Hemorrhoids.”
One publication pointed out its greatest sin: this architect has worked on similar projects that have not been met with the same amount of disdain. In those cases, the buildings meshed well with its surroundings. Not only does the MoPOP not blend in with the world around it, its weird mishmash of curved surfaces don’t seem to mean anything. For God’s sake… it doesn’t even look like a smashed guitar.
Today is the birthday of its designer: the Canadian-born American architect named Frank Gehry.
Happy 90th birthday!