A museum in Seattle highlights two distinct expressions of popular culture - pop music and science fiction. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum looks at innovation in the arts.
The 13,000-square-meter building, designed by the architect Frank Gehry, opened in 2000 with funding from Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft.
Seattle was the home of rock musician Jimi Hendrix, and one section of the museum highlights popular music.
Curator Brooks Peck says visitors can see and hear the story of Hendrix, the Beatles, and other music icons.
"What they can also do, which I think is special, is they can come and be inspired to become a musician and learn how to be a musician," he said. "We have an interactive sound lab where people can grab an instrument, work with a computer instructor that will get them started on whatever they want to play - drums, guitar, bass, just about anything."
Jazz, country, Latin music are all explored here. The museum also highlights music that originated in and around Seattle, including the original 1957 version of Louie Louie by Richard Berry.
A later recording by The Kingsmen became a major hit.
There are guitars on display, from those made in the 1770s to modern electric versions.
The museum's Martha Carey points to an exhibit that highlights Hip Hop music.
"It also showcases all the influence that hip hop has had in other forms of cultural expression - fashion, art, graffiti art, even product development, and the way record companies are formed and even how they disperse their music," she said.
In another part of the ultra-modern building, the Science Fiction Museum showcases thought-provoking ideas from science fiction stories, films and television series.
There are costumes and movie props from Star Wars, The Terminator, Batman and many other films. The Hall of Fame honors innovators of science fiction, including Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, and Ridley Scott, who directed the sci-fi films Alien and Blade Runner.