Seen "Nirvana: Taking Punk To The Masses" Exhibit At The EMP/SF Museum

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"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are."
--
Kurt Cobain

This was the main reason we came to Seattle. Back when I made a ProTools recording a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was a huge fan of the band
Nirvana. To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the release of Nevermind, the Experience Music Project & Science Fiction Museum created a Nirvana exhibit that started this April and runs until April 2013. The exhibit is called Nirvana: Taking Punk To The Masses, and a lot of the items included in it come from Krist Novoselic's personal belongings.
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From the lobby, a large image of Kurt Cobain playing guitar and crowd surfing overlooks the main stairway to the second floor of the museum. The photo is accompanied by a Novoselic quote, "Music is an art form that thrives on reinvention."
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The first part of the exhibit had an instrument from each of the three members of Nirvana. The guitar showcased here is the one used when Nirvana first played "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
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The next part of the exhibit focused on the music that was coming from the Pacific Northwest, what their influences were and what Nirvana's influences were. This was pretty great because there were interviews and a wall with different music from the late 70's and 80's punk and metal eras that really contributed to and shaped what the Seattle sound would become.
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A map of the area with the bands from the different Washington and Oregon cities showcased all the different music that has come from this part of the country.
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From here, the exhibit starts with the story of Nirvana, which included things like Kurt Cobain's demo tape from the first band Fecal Matter, some personal letters, and even some old recording equipment and a suitcase.
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Before Nirvana recorded their first album
Bleach, they played some parties and small shows. A bunch of relics from that time are displayed here: Nirvana's first press kit, pictures, sliver from a broken guitar, and more demo tapes.
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Also on display was the cover layout for
Bleach: "The album cover was designed by Lisa Orth, who asked Grant Alden, typesetter at the local music magazine The Rocket to produce the band and album title type. He used the typeface that was already in the typesetting machine: Bodoni Extra Bold Condensed. Thus Nirvana's iconic logo was born, entirely by accident."
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In 1989, Nirvana agreed to terms with Sub Pop to record their first record. This recording contract was something the band felt would give them more commitment from the label.
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After touring with Tad, the band started work on recording their second album
Nevermind, which forever changed the course of music. Included in this section of the exhibit were guitars and Kurt's sweater.
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On the concept for the album cover, Geffen art director Robert Fisher wrote, "If anyone has a problem with his d**k we can remove it."
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Nevermind brought the band commercial success, including a Video Music Award for "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
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There are a ton of great photos and backstage passes after the success of the album.
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There were two of the anatomy angels on display that the band used on stage during their tours for their final studio album
In Utero.
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For
Unplugged, they had one of Novoselic's basses and the guitar used by Pat Smear. The setlist for that show was also on display.
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The setlist for the last concert ever played is framed and is the last item in the wall display.
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I liked this exhibit by itself, but I'd also recommend the rest of the museum, which has displays for Jimi Hendrix, Battlestar Galactica, Avatar, horror films, a guitar gallery, a giant theater, and a sound lab. This is really fun place to go, especially if you're at all into music or science fiction.
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For me, this was an incredible exhibit that as a
Nirvana fan was more than I could ask for. I really appreciated how they built up from the influence of punk rock and the Seattle underground scene to how Nirvana brought this to the mainstream. It was totally worth the trip to see this.

Related Items:
Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind
Nevermind [2 CD Deluxe Edition]
Bleach
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