New Sci-Fi Museum in Seattle
It's neither history nor the future. Rather, it’s a history of ideas
about the future, mainly from TV and films. The opening room is planetarium-like, wrapped in stars, and shows a time-line
of science fiction and its overlap with real science.
And yes, if it’s a new museum in Seattle, it must be a Paul
Allen project. Right. He started with his own collection of sci-fi memorabilia, gave it 13 thousand square feet, and
tossed in $20 million for starters. It’s housed within the Experience Music Project, designed by Frank
Gehry, which is nestled at the base of the Space Needle.
Taking in the exhibit is a reminder that after 80 years the popular genre still fascinates.
And its cinematic incarnations are not limited to adolescents. The museum’s director, Donna Shirley,
who managed the NASA Mars Exploration Program, says she got her career inspiration at the age of 12 when she read Bradbury’s
The exhibits emphasize the mix of fantasy and reality. A tunic from the 1956 film
"Forbidden Planet" is in the same case as a NASA space suit from the Gemini program.
There’s a "Stardock" window into space, a collection of phaser guns, Captain
Kirks’ Star Trek uniform, models of extraterrestrials, and lots of touch-screens for more
info. The dizzying array is obviously a first draft, but it's a good start.
Science fiction writers aspire to know what could possibly be true. Many
have themselves been scientists and seek the profound. Some are preoccupied with the past-- for studying ‘what
was’ can lead to ‘what if ?'
In 'Star Wars,' George Lucas slyly retreats from the future.
His villains are masters of gleaming technology, whereas his retro heroes are in touch with the lost powers of the past.
Our current cinema’s special effects and computer-generated models are shaped
and spurred by sci-fi films, where there is always an innovation, ala Pixtar, in the works.
"War of the Worlds" is being made into two feature films
and will invade next summer’s blockbuster and marketing tie-in list. Sci-fi is here to stay, and now it has a place
to show off its collectibles and phantasmagorical effects.