Clever, clever Paul Allen….well, ish.
The co-founder of some local company called Microsoft, billionaire mogul Paul Allen died in 2018 after a lifetime of acquiring a lot of shiny things many of which he shared with Seattle, including our professional football team, the Seahawks but also pop culture stuff like the Cinerama movie theater and the creation of the Experience Music Project in 2000 which eventually morphed into MoPop, the Museum of Pop Culture.
I say “ish” because Allen didn’t really do the best job of making sure all of his toys would be well handled after he died. The Cinerama ended up being badly managed by the Allen team and then closed down only to be finally saved by the Seattle International Film Festival earlier this year.
However, you have to give credit to someone who solved the problem of what to do with all the crap in your closets/ attic/garage after you’ve left this mortal coil…just donate all that junk and relieve your heirs the pain of having to have multiple yard sales!!!
As for MoPop, it was mostly filled with stuff purchased by Allen over his many years of enthusiastic pop culture collecting. While many of us might save up to snag an old toy on Ebay or a beloved comic book from our youth, Allen had the bucks to go out and buy things like Jimi Hendrix guitars and Mama Cass’s last ham sandwich or John Travolta’s jock strap from Saturday Night Fever. I’m kidding/exaggerating to a small degree here but still…he bought tons and tons of iconic stuff from the worlds of rock music, film and television.
A lot of that stuff we’ve been able to see at MoPop but not all. However, that’s about to change since it’s been officially announced that Allen did leave most of his collections to MoPop. Now, we can all enjoy Darth Vader’s helmet and the Wicked Witch’s hat for all of eternity!
Via press release:
MoPOP, the acclaimed nonprofit Museum of Pop Culture, today announced it has received thousands of one-of-a-kind artifacts, props, posters, handbills, illustrations and other objects from the estate of Paul G. Allen. The items span decades of cultural moments across science fiction, fantasy, horror, and rock ‘n’ roll music among other genres and include rare artifacts previously loaned to the museum as well as items never before exhibited in public. Allen, philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder, was an avid collector and co-founder of MoPOP.
The breadth and depth of Allen’s movie and music-related collection was appreciated worldwide. Highlights of his gift to MoPOP include a 1951 Epiphone FT 79 acoustic guitar owned by Jimi Hendrix; a hand-painted and smashed Univox electric guitar owned by Kurt Cobain; a complete alien creature suit from the 1979 film Alien; Darth Vader’s helmet from the 1980 blockbuster film Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back; handwritten lyrics by David Bowie for “Starman” from the early 1970s; the motorcycle jacket worn by Prince in his 1984 film Purple Rain; a collection of Nichelle Nichols’ (Lt. Nyota Uhura) hand-annotated scripts from the Star Trek television and film series (1965-1998); the iconic hat worn by Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz; and a full-size flying “Spinner” vehicle from the 1982 film Blade Runner, among many other items.
Several dozen artifacts from the bequest are currently on display in Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy: Worlds of Myth & Magic, Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film, Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses, and other exhibitions. In addition, these artifacts will be incorporated into many future exhibitions, the online collections vault, and loans to other museums and institutions worldwide. This bequest expands the scope of MoPOP’s 80,000+ object permanent collection to be more reflective of the breadth of content that we explore as a Museum of Pop Culture, and further highlights the Museum’s mission to make creative expression a life-changing force as a global leader in the preservation, display, and interpretation of popular culture. Share your fandom and join the nonprofit community at mopop.org.