Hawaii Mom Blog: Visit Seattle - EMP Museum




October 25, 2013

Visit Seattle - EMP Museum

Click on all photos to enlarge. Disclosure: Our family received complimentary admission.

During our recent trip to Seattle, we visited the EMP Museum, and I was very impressed with how much there was to see and do there.

Highlights of Our Visit
Housed in a unique building designed by Frank O. Gehry, the EMP Museum offers a nice variety of exhibits.

The towering IF VI WAS IX sound sculpture by Trimpin that greeted us at the start of the EMP experiences on the second level was such a sight. I've seen pictures of the sculpture online, but to see it in person was just incredible.
The second level's exhibits also included Icons of Science Fiction, where we saw some popular costumes and objects from well-known movies and TV shows, and it's also where my kids got a kick out of being in their own special effects scene.  They donned some costumes, and with the help of some props and a green screen, they pretended to be chased by a dragon.

I was a little worried about taking my kids into the Can't Look Away: The Lure of Horror exhibition (exhibits are rated PG-13), but the items on display were not as gruesome as I expected, and in fact my kids didn't really look around - they had too much fun at the Philip Worthington interactive shadow monster installation, where creepy things popped up from our heads' and hands' shadows.
It was also neat to see the artifacts in Fantasy: Worlds of Myth Magic, as well as all the memorabilia in the Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses and Hear My Train a Comin': Hendrix Hits London exhibits.  Although in the latter two exhibits my kids were not very enthused, they did enjoy all the numerous listening stations.  As my husband and I perused the displays, they were content to just sit down and listen to the music.

But by far, what excited the kids the most was the Sound Lab on the third floor.

Here they were able to play all sorts of different instruments - drums, guitars, keyboards, and even perform together in one of several soundproof rooms.

The biggest highlight for me was when our family became rock stars for a few minutes while performing at On Stage.

We chose one of a handful of songs (Twist & Shout), picked a band name (my middle son chose the name Jazz), got on some instruments (my oldest on guitar, my middle on keyboard, my youngest on drums, and my husband and I on vocals while helping the kids), and started to jam.
After the performance, we were able to watch a playback (posters and DVDs of the special performance are also available for purchase).

It was so much FUN!

Our Experience Visiting as a Special-Needs Family
My oldest son has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and although I know kids on the spectrum all behave and react differently in various environments, I always try to share our personal experience when visiting attractions.

Before our visit I explained to my son what we'd see and do at the museum, and since he loves listening to music and playing instruments (toy instruments as well as real instruments that we have at home - a keyboard, guitar, and ukulele), I knew he was going to LOVE the Sound Lab.

Initially he got a bit anxious and unfocused while going through some of the exhibits on the second floor, but when he found exhibits that he enjoyed, like the shadow monster, we gave him some extra time there since he became less anxious.

Once in the Sound Lab he seemed a lot more relaxed, yet at the same time very excited to try out the various different instruments (his favorite instrument to play was the drums).

Although there were a lot of visitors, fortunately it wasn't extremely crowded (crowds can be unsettling for him), and he didn't encounter any auditory sensitivity issues while in the Sound Lab, On Stage, or even watching the video displayed on the huge screen in Sky Church.
If he needed to take a break or self-calm, there were several places to sit throughout the museum.

For those on a GFCF diet or other restricted diets, they do allow outside food and drink in public areas (e.g. ticketing lobby), but not the galleries.

Overall he really enjoyed himself, and I personally thought he did great despite being exposed to so many new sights and sounds.

Final Thoughts
The EMP Museum has something for everyone.  I really enjoyed seeing all of the pop culture exhibits, and my entire family loved the Sound Lab.

And thanks to On Stage, we were able to rock out on real instruments in our own family band.

If you want to see some props from your favorite sci-fi TV show or horror movie, learn more about some great musicians with roots in Seattle, or become a rock star for a day, the EMP Museum is definitely a must-visit. 

Below are more photos from our visit. Enjoy!
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
EMP Museum: 325 5th Ave N Seattle, WA 98109; (206) 770-2700

For information on ticket prices, hours, and more, click here.

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