Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum Visit

Today, I visited the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame here in Seattle. I went mostly for the second part, the SF content, because I’ve already been to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

In addition to the expected material (lots of Star Trek mentions), these were some of my favorite things to see:

* The Rocketeer costume and props.

* Barbarella‘s crossbow.

* A Muffit costume and a copy of the TV Guide article about the chimpanzee (!) that wore it. (I can’t believe I didn’t know that.)

* The occasional dress. They had a cute little frock that Anne Francis wore in Forbidden Planet, as well as Farrah Fawcett-Majors’ costume from Logan’s Run.

* Ship models and the Twiki suit from Buck Rogers. They looked a bit shabby, which reminded me just how long it’s been since that show aired.

The best thing about the exhibits was the way they grouped props and books by theme, highlighting how particular subjects were covered in different stories and eras. (Although there were a couple of movie posters for lesser-known films where I would have appreciated plot descriptions.) I found myself making notes of books I needed to read or movies I wanted to see based on the descriptions (once just on the cover). I’ve now got a reading list of novels to try or re-read. It was always fun to get that thrill of recognition, when I saw a particular paperback edition I had owned and read. I wanted a lot more discussion of the concepts raised and key points in the science fiction canon, but I suppose that kind of material is better found on the web these days.

My biggest complaint is that what should be entire galleries on their own are simply single exhibit cases. I wanted so much more, both in terms of content and depth. What’s there is great, but it only scratches the surface. The more you know and enjoy the eras covered — 50s and 60s print, 70s and 80s movies and TV — the more you will get out of the material. I found myself wondering what defines science fiction for today’s kids. What could they include to seem relevant, the way Star Wars was cool to people my age or Star Trek was to our parents?

I enjoyed the experience, but I’m not sure it’s worth the price (especially since parking fees doubled my cost of admission). I found it easy to do everything I wanted in three hours (for both), although I will say I didn’t do very much with the interactive exhibits. With an adult admission price of $15, it’s expensive for what it is. I wish I could have visited next month, when a traveling Smithsonian exhibit about the Muppets will be on display.

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