A new exhibit at EMP Museum, opening Saturday, March 28, shows off more than 150 objects from classic science-fiction movies, TV shows, novels and more.
At the touch of a screen, a large screen globe called a World Visualizer in EMP Museum’s newest exhibit lights up, becoming a 3D projection of Jupiter, showing the planet’s warm swirling patterns reminiscent of a bowling ball.
Another click turns the globe into Mercury, Mars or a number of planets in solar systems real and imagined. Curator Brooks Peck clicked through the planets during a walk-through Wednesday of “Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction,” describing the exhibit. On view are more than 150 objects from classic science fiction movies, TV shows and novels, featured mostly in glass cases in a dimly lit space.
Peck’s affinity for the grandiose and the strange often found in science fiction was apparent.
‘Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction’
Opens Saturday, March 28, EMP Museum, $15-$25 (206-770-2702 or empmuseum.org).
“I’m just a lifelong nerd,” Peck said. “I love a sense of wonder when you watch a (science fiction) movie or you read a book and you get that mental ‘Wow.’ ”
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The exhibit, which opens Saturday, is painted rusty maroon, accented by yellow and white lights to give it the look of an ancient spaceship. Trick mirrors lined with lights give the illusion of endless corridors that bend into eternity.
Peck’s concept for the space is an “alien automated machine” that travels the galaxy, time, space and dimensions while collecting and showcasing artifacts.
The globe might switch between planets, but the spaceship itself is stopped at Earth to show off “the wonders of the universe” it found along its journey.
These wonders include the ghost trap and proton pack from “Ghostbusters,” which hangs near a large Dalek cyborg from “Doctor Who.” The metal T-800 skeleton from “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” is next to Greedo, a blue alien featured in the cantina scene of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” A large backlit wall of laser guns and other weaponry looks like a “Men in Black” armory.
The exhibit even has the “Back to the Future II” hoverboards that were supposed to exist in 2015. (Get it together, future Earth.)
According to Peck, these artifacts are rarer than they once were. Because the landscapes and creations in science-fiction movies have become more computer-generated, “there’s less and less to show,” Peck said, pointing to a display of miniature spaceship models that were filmed close-up to appear as planet-hopping behemoths.
Peck said he hoped to demonstrate the breadth of science fiction with “Infinite Worlds,” which consists of objects from EMP’s collection and on loan from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, Paramount Pictures and other private lenders. The exhibit features sections aimed at casual fans but some for dedicated followers, too, like sketchbooks and paintings from Jack Gaughan, an artist who made cover art for numerous science-fiction paperbacks.
There are also interactive areas like a Scout Ship with touch screens and flashing buttons that visitors can pilot around alien planets and a pneumatic tube system used to send notes across the room in the process of decoding an alien language.
The artifacts and images of “Infinite Worlds” may look otherworldly, but Peck said he hopes the exhibit (and science fiction as a whole) facilitates learning about our own planet while the hypothetical spacecraft is still on Earth.
“Science fiction is often about change and in our world things change all the time,” Peck said. “Science fiction is a good tool to help people think about change and cope with change.”