Seattle’s Experience Music Project has a new exhibit opening for a band you may have heard about: Seattle grunge luminaries Nirvana, presented in an extensive and massive exhibition entitled Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses. The exhibit runs April 16, 2011, until April 22, 2013, and will feature rare and unseen artifacts and photography from the band, their crews and families.
Taking Punk to the Masses spent nearly two years in production, and features an impressively long list of artifacts both tied directly to the band and the independent punk rock community of which they were an integral part. According to the EMP/SFM website, these include, but aren’t limited to:
- Kurt Cobain’s never-before exhibited, high school painting of two aging, Reagan-era punks in the post-apocalypse, informally known as “punk American gothic.”
- The Teac reel-to-reel tape machine owned by Mari Earl, Cobain’s aunt, on which a young Kurt recorded material for his early bands, Organized Confusion and Fecal Matter.
- Cobain’s handwritten lyrics for Nirvana songs including “Spank Thru” and “Floyd the Barber.”
- Numerous instruments, including pieces of the first guitar Cobain destroyed onstage (a Univox Hi-Flyer); Dave Grohl’s Tama Rockstar-Pro drum kit; and Krist Novoselic’s Guild acoustic bass guitar and Buck Owens American acoustic guitar used during the recording of “MTV Unplugged.”
- The yellow cardigan worn often by Cobain between 1991 and 1994.
- The winged angel stage prop featured on Nirvana’s In Utero tour.
- Scores of candid snapshots capturing the band’s early years, from their beginnings in Aberdeen, Washington to the media frenzy that erupted after Nevermind.
The exhibition also includes over 100 oral histories, new and old, from key figures in the late ’80s, early ’90s independent music scene, including: Novoselic; Mark Arm and Steve Turner of Mudhoney; Jack Endino, producer of Bleach ; Steve Albini (In Utero); Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman, co-founders of Sub Pop Records; and Chad Channing. Also launching with the exhibit is a 250-page full-color book, Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind, a chronicle of the roots and rise of the grunge movement.
Below, check out sneak peeks at the oral histories of the band, with segments by Chad Channing and Jack Endino. And when you’re done with that, you can also check out EMP’s online gallery of user-submitted Nirvana memorabilia.
Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses opens April 16, 2011 and runs until April 22, 2013.
September 7, 2010 through May 26, 2011, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Winter)
May 28 through September 6, 2010, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (Summer)
$12 youth (ages 5-17), students, military and seniors;
FREE for members and children under 5.
325 5th Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109
206-770-2700, main line
206-770-2702, box office