EMP to Stage Massive Nirvana Exhibit



Opening in April
Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses traces band’s rise with
rarities including candid snapshots, never displayed artwork, smashed guitars,
signed lyrics and more. But not those early Kurt Cobain demos, apparently.


By Blurt Staff


Experience Music Project
(EMP) in Seattle
announced yesterday the 2011 opening of the world’s most extensive exhibition
of memorabilia celebrating the music and history of Nirvana. Curated by EMP’s
Jacob McMurray, and featuring rare and unseen pieces from the band, their crews
and families, Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses will run April 16, 2011
– April 22, 2013. 


Guitarist Kurt Cobain “was a visionary artist who
touched people all over the world,” said Krist Novoselic, the band’s bassist
and co-founder, in a statement accompanying the announcement. “It’s great that
there will soon be a collection that celebrates that contribution to
music and culture. There’s a story with Nirvana at its center, but it’s a
story that also includes the many people, bands and institutions
that make up a music community. The show is a celebration of Northwest


Nirvana: Taking
Punk to the Masses
features 200 artifacts, including:


*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


*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.


“Most people know
Nirvana as mythologized rock stars; this exhibit balances that understanding
with a tangible, human look at their journey from Aberdeen to the world stage,”
said Jacob McMurray, senior curator at EMP, who envisioned and assembled the


“I’m really excited for Nirvana to be a touchstone for
this exhibition – and especially proud that it’s happening at Experience
Music Project,” Novoselic added. “In addition to their great work
presenting artists and music, EMP has a comprehensive educational component that
makes it so much more than ‘just a museum.’  It’s a technology-based
invitation to anyone who might be interested – the more you’re interested in
something, the more information on that topic becomes available.”


The exhibit contains
more than 100 new and archived oral histories from key figures in the
independent music scene of the late 1980s and early ’90s, including: Novoselic; Mark Arm and Steve Turner of the band Mudhoney;
Jack Endino, who produced Nirvana’s first album Bleach (1989); Steve
Albini, who recorded their third album, In Utero (1993); Bruce Pavitt
and Jonathan Poneman, co-founders of Sub Pop Records; Seattle scene
photographers Charles Peterson and Alice Wheeler; Nirvana drummer Chad
Channing; and Earnie Bailey, Kurt Cobain’s guitar tech.


Steve Fisk, who
co-produced the band’s Blew EP (1989), created the ambient soundtrack
fans will hear as they move through the exhibition. Visitors eager to dig even
further into the vast store of images, audio and video that informed the
collection will be able to explore them in detail at media kiosks.


To highlight the
integral role that fans played and continue to play in relationship with
Nirvana, the exhibit will also include a “confessional” in which fans can
record their own stories, memories, poems and other thoughts about the band,
its music and its members. That footage will be woven into concert film and
interviews that screen continuously during the exhibit.


325 5th Avenue North,
Seattle, WA 98109
206-770-2700, main line
206-770-2702, box office
1-877-EMP-SFM1, toll-free




Leave a Reply