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Pearl Jam’s Still Alive at MoPop

New exhibit honoring Seattle grunge founders rocks


Published on: August 30, 2018

Photo credit: Jim Bennett
Photo credit: Jim Bennett

It feels like yesterday that I was a tween belting out harmonies along to the first cassette album I’ve ever purchased: Pearl Jam’s “Ten.” But, in fact, it’s been 25 years.

Long enough that several more of the band’s albums have been the soundtrack to some of my life’s major events: heading off to college, getting married and the birth of our four kids. Long enough that I now have a rock-loving tween of my own. Long enough that the iconic founders of grunge are now being featured as rock "legends" in a new exhibit at MoPop, “Home and Away.”

The bottom line: Not just for nostalgic superfans

Curated in partnership with Pearl Jam archivist and videographer Kevin Shuss, MoPop’s “Pearl Jam: Home and Away” features 200-plus artifacts collected over the band’s 30-year history. The exhibit includes an intimate look at several aspects of the band's creative process, from song lyric and art design drafts to fun art renderings of the band members to memorabilia that commemorate the time.

Pearl Jam
Photo credit: Jim Bennett

Pearl Jam fans (especially locals) will feel at home, with the familiar sounds of PJ's greatest hits playing in the background, and a staple Pacific Northwest style is featured in many of the displays. Much of the band’s history is Seattle’s history, including the venues they played in their iconic Pacific Northwest style. Many of the artifacts showcased in the exhibit will be most exciting to fans, including set lists from past performances, vintage posters and artwork, Pearl Jam's wardrobe and instruments band members used throughout their years on tour.

But the exhibit isn’t just for nostalgic superfans; it’s family-friendly, too, showcasing colorful art and costume displays at kids’ levels. If you combine the exhibit with time at MoPop's other hands-on music displays — music mixing boards, kid-friendly live recording studios, instruments kids can pick up and play — it adds up to an inspiring day for music-loving families.

Pearl Jam
Photo credit: Jim Bennett

Rocker role models

Pearl Jam’s creative process and their passion for making a difference both take center stage in exhibit, making the band the ideal example of "role model" rockers for kids.

If you happen to have an aspiring rock star in your ranks (as I do) it offers a rare and intimate look at the band behind the music. Three viewing areas project close-up clips of live performances. Dozens of original song lyrics scrawled on notebook paper and napkins are displayed in several glass encasements. 

An installation toward the back of the exhibit is a replica of the band’s modest (and well-worn) first rehearsal space. In a world where reality star judges weed through television hopefuls to find the next big star, it’s a welcome lesson for kids that music teachers are right: It’s practice that makes perfect, even (especially?) for a band with star power that's spanned decades. 

Finally, the exhibit’s theme of "home" is a nod to one of the band’s well-known passions: ending homelessness in our city. The band’s two shows at Safeco in early August (their first homecoming since 2013) raised over $11.5 million to combat homelessness in Seattle, with restaurants and other businesses pledging to continue fundraising efforts to aid the cause. The exhibit addresses this topic, too, including an educational section where kids can learn about homelessness (and what they can do about it).

Pearl Jam
Photo credit: Jim Bennett

Parents should know

MoPop is pricey (at $27 for regular-priced tickets and $36 for special tickets). “Home and Away” is a small exhibit so, if you plan to head to the exhibit, I’d recommend you make the most of it and tour the whole museum.

If you go…

When: MoPop is open daily, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (summer hours, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. daily through Sept. 3.)

Cost: $27–$36 for tickets to the special exhibition and regular exhibits; save $2 by buying online; kids ages 4 and under are free. Family membership for two adults and up to five children costs $129.

More to see at MoPop: Make the most of your ticket by also checking out exhibits such as "Indie Game Revolution," playing music in the Sound Lab. or pay a bit extra to head to 'Marvel: Universe of Superheroes.’

More to see at Seattle Center: See our complete age-by-age guide, as well as the best hidden spots at Seattle Center.

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