Click the photo for an audio slideshow of EMP's Hendrix exhibit, featuring curator Jacob McMurray . Photo courtesy of Experience Music Project.

What: Last chance


A Final Look at EMP's Jimi Hendrix Exhibit

Watch an audio slideshow.

Click the photo for an audio slideshow of EMP's Hendrix exhibit, featuring curator Jacob McMurray. Photo courtesy of Experience Music Project.

What: Last chance to see EMP's Hendrix exhibit
When: Throough Sunday
Where: Experience Music Project, Seattle Center
Note: The museum offers free admission from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 2, and the first Thursday of every month.

It's supposed to look like a smashed guitar.

It's a piece of chewed-up bubblegum.

It's going to be called HEMP: Hendrix Experience Music Project.

Plenty of rumors and tales swarmed around town when the Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music Project began to come into focus around 1999 and 2000. One thing was certain: Jimi Hendrix would be a big part of it.

The project began, years before the 1997 groundbreaking ceremony, when billionaire around town Paul Allen decided he wanted some kind of shrine to the Seattle-bred singer/guitarist/legend. And since the day the mushroomed-idea opened at the Seattle Center, the Hendrix exhibit has been the cornerstone of the museum, even as the focus of the projected expanded to include science fiction. Monday, Aug. 6, the exhibit's coming down, primarily to preserve the items which have been on display since the museum's opening in 2000.

I caught up with EMP curator Jacob McMurray, who co-curated the current Hendrix exhibit that went up in 2003. During a tour of the exhibit, McMurray explained why it was being taken down, what's next for the space, and where Nirvana fits into the museum's future.

Here are a few excerpts from our conversation.

On Hendrix's continued presence at EMP:

McMurray: Jimi Hendrix has always been one of the pillars of the museum, and he will continue to be.  We're always going to have a Hendrix presence in the museum, no matter what. We have an 8,000-piece Hendrix collection, one of the biggest in the world. It's definitely not a de-emphasis on Jimi.

We've already de-installed some of piece like The Monterey guitar, and the Seville Theatre guitar, and then we're actually going to de-install the Woodstock Strat and have a small case where we'll feature those for right now. And then we've talked more things. We could do a little interactive with the mixing console, have that on display. So, really for the next couple years, there won't be one major area with Hendrix, there will be kind of some smaller areas around the museum that will feature Jimi.

A Traveling Hendrix Exhibit:

But then after a year or two down the road, what we're going to do is launch a major Hendrix exposition that would actually travel first. One of the ideas is that maybe when it comes back to the museum, you know, there's always these kind of anniversaries that are happening. ... maybe if we know the 40th Anniversary of “Axis: Bold As Love,” is coming up, why not do something where you can really dive in-depth on that album. You can only do so much when it's a survey sort of thing.

Any Indication that this (Exhibit) has become less popular?


Exhibit to take Hendrix's place?

American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music. That will take up the whole Disney space and the Hendrix space. Going forward our whole plan is to have this space be one gigantic space.

On pairing a sci-fi museum with a rock and roll museum:

That is one of our long-range goals in the next couple years is trying to merge both the institutions under the umbrella of popular culture. Kind of gradually expanding out the boundaries of what those two mean.

Nirvana at EMP:

It's the same with the Northwest Gallery. A lot of that stuff has been up for seven years. We have a plan in process in the next couple years to re-do the Northwest gallery, and, actually do a big Nirvana exhibit as well down there. I want to re-tool it so about half of it is a large-scale Nirvana exhibition, and then the other half will be sort of more selective Northwest Passage exhibit. Not trying to be comprehensive of every single band in the Northwest. Talk about the story of the Fastbacks or whatever it is. There's a lot of cool stories out there. If you can really delve into it, you can you know, learn a lot of new things, other than a survey.

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