You can’t spend more than a few minutes at Seattle Center before running into the mammoth metallic Museum of Pop Culture. If you took the Monorail from downtown, you went right through it! Originally opened in 2000 as the Experience Music Project (EMP) by Microsoft co-founder and local billionaire Paul Allen, the museum has rebranded several times over the years and is now MoPOP, a collection of exhibits touching on music, TV, film, and gaming.
Many of MoPOP’s exhibits, from the indie video game collection to the Sound Lab of musical instruments, are highly interactive, making it a great place to bring kids and teens. It’s a charming mix of geek culture and rock and roll — a uniquely Seattle experience.
How to get to MoPOP
MoPOP is located at the northwest corner of 5th Avenue North and Thomas Street, just steps northeast of the Space Needle in Seattle Center. Look for the unique multi-colored Frank Gehry building; you can’t miss it! The museum is a 15-20 minute walk from the downtown hotel district, or consider riding the Seattle Center Monorail from Westlake Center to Seattle Center.
What is there to see at MoPOP?
You won’t find a broad collection of general pop culture memorabilia at MoPOP. Instead, its exhibits are focused on specific content. Check the museum calendar to make sure you’re interested in what’s currently on display.
As of 2018, the museum’s collection includes:
- The largest collections in the world of instruments, memorabilia, hand-written lyrics, and other personal effects from Seattle musicians Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana
- “If VI was IX,” a two-story sculpture made of nearly 700 auto-playing guitars and other instruments
- Interactive music studios and instruments, where guests can learn and jam on guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, and vocals (these are fun!)
- Smaller exhibits of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror memorabilia
- Indie Game Revolution, an interactive video game exhibition very popular with kids and teens
MoPOP’s special exhibition for 2018 is Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, a massive collection of Marvel artwork, costumes, and movie props. The exhibit is an additional $8 and runs through January 6, 2019.
When is MoPOP open?
As of 2018, MoPOP is open daily 10 AM – 7 PM during summer season (through September 3) and 10 AM – 5 PM during winter season (September 4 to late May).
The museum is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day but open most other holidays.
How much does MoPOP cost?
As of 2018, admission fees are:
- Adults: $26 online / $28 walk-up
- Youth (5-17): $17 online / $19 walk-up
- Children (4 and under): Free
- Seniors (65+) and students with ID: $23 online / $25 walk-up
- Military with ID: $20 online / $22 walk-up
Special exhibitions incur an additional charge (usually around $8 per guest).
If you’re visiting multiple attractions in the city, consider the Seattle CityPASS (affiliate link), which offers admission to MoPOP as well as four other sites: the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, and Chihuly Garden and Glass or Pacific Science Center. The CityPASS is $89 for adults (13+) and $69 for youth and can be purchased at the MoPOP ticket desk.
Is MoPOP worth visiting?
We think MoPOP makes for an especially great stop if you or your family are fans of the science fiction and fantasy genres. We also really like the museum’s Nirvana exhibit, which showcases Seattle’s emergence at the forefront of the grunge music scene. If those things aren’t of interest to you, you might have a better time elsewhere. For those using the Seattle CityPASS, your other option is the Woodland Park Zoo, which is home to a great collection of animal life from around the world.