Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Summer Vacation: Experience Music Project and beyond…

Ali Porter

Before the spring semester was even over I was planning my summer vacation. I decided to fly to Seattle, see Vancouver, and then road trip back to Chicago via Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, the Badlands, and the Black Hills. My first stop was the Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle, and it was awesome.

The EMP is a huge museum dedicated to popular culture. It is home to many quality exhibits with some of the best being those centered around music. I could not wait to go as I had heard great things about it and really wanted to check out the Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana exhibits. The Hendrix section was awesome. They had Jimi’s guitar from Woodstock as well as tons of video clips and documentaries that uncover many facts about his career that many people are not aware of. They also have some of his clothes, love letters from his fans, and the actual instruments used by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. As a fan I was blown away and could have stayed in the exhibit all day.

After taking in as much Jimi as my mind would allow, I made my way to the Nirvana section. This exhibit is the jewel in the crown of the EMP. It follows Nirvana’s career from when they were recording demos in their bedrooms to becoming the biggest rock band in the world.

I think what makes the exhibit so special is that it is in Seattle, where the band got their start. There is something about being in the city and learning about the band that makes you realize that they were just a bunch of guys who happened to make really awesome music. The exhibit really strips away the hype and gives a down-to-earth look into the world of a rock band as their career takes off.

They have so much stuff on display it is overwhelming. Highlights include instruments used by the band at pivotal moments in their career, as well as their original recording contracts, and tons of candid photos of the group on tour. The interactive video clips on offer were so well made and informative that I could have watched them all, but sadly the museum was closing. For those diehard Nirvana fans out there, here is a quick taste of how they began their recording career:

If it was not for the epic road trip I had waiting for me after visiting the EMP, I could easily have gone back a few times to make sure the music geek in me had read and seen everything in the building. I just wish Chicago had something similar, because the music heritage here is definitely strong enough!

Summer Vacation: Experience Music Project and beyond…

Before the spring semester was even over I was planning my summer vacation. I decided to fly to Seattle, see Vancouver, and then road trip back to Chicago via Yellowstone, the Grand …

Arts, Entertainment & Media Management MAM Ali Porter, alistair.porter@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

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