Experience Music Project Announces Grand Opening

Last week, the Experience Music Project, described as an "interactive museum devoted to creativity and innovation in American popular music," announced that it will open its doors to the public on Friday, June 23, 2000, in Seattle, Washington, with a multi-day celebration featuring events in and around the museum, and live performances by a wide variety of musicians. EMP said it expects more than a million visitors during the course of its first year.

Founded by Jody Patton and investor and Microsoft founder Paul G. Allen, EMP states its mission as "a destination meant to inspire young and old through the power and joy of American popular music." EMP says it will combine traditional exhibits with interactive multimedia presentations and hands-on technology to tell the stories of various music genres, and show a selection of EMP's diverse collection of more than 80,000 artifacts (see previous story). EMP says that jazz, blues, country, and gospel all influenced rock'n'roll and will be represented at the museum, as will hip-hop, punk, grunge, and other more recent genres that took their inspiration from rock music.

EMP's Patton explains that "we set out to create a museum that would celebrate creativity and innovation, and believed we had to be creative and innovative in the way that was accomplished. Using American popular music, especially rock'n'roll, as the backdrop, EMP will offer visitors everything from a traditional museum browsing experience, to hands-on interactive exhibits, to a one-of-a-kind immersive ride-like experience. Creating and combining those elements under one roof has been a tremendous undertaking, and I'm excited that on June 23 it all becomes a reality."

Scheduled activities for the grand opening will include free and ticketed live music events, as well as a range of educational workshops, master classes, films, public programs, and tours of the 140,000-square-foot museum and its exhibits. EMP's highly unusual-looking buildings were designed by architect Frank O. Gehry and are located at the 74-acre Seattle Center, home to the Space Needle.

EMP says its exhibits and nine public programs are synergistic, working together to create an entire experience. EMP adds that the programs, represented by nine philosophical and physical "icons," are: Sky Church, a gathering place and performance venue; Crossroads, the main exhibit area; Sound Lab, a futuristic studio where participants can play real and synthetic instruments; Artist's Journey, a ride-like experience combining special effects, theatrical lighting, film, audio, video, computer graphics, and state-of-the-art motion-platform technology; EMP Digital Collection, a repository of information, images, audio, and video available on workstations in EMP and online; Performance Stage, venues designed for intimate performances, guest lectures, special video and film series, master classes, and performing art productions; Electric Bus, the museum's national educational outreach vehicle (to be unveiled at the grand opening); Experience Arts Camp, a day-camp program giving young people the opportunity to work alongside masters of contemporary music, art, film, drama, and creative technology; and Studio, which provides hands-on educational experiences that give visitors a chance to explore their own creative potential.