SEATTLE—Experience Music Project | Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (EMP|SFM) will welcome its newest exhibition Aug. 15, 2009.
Spaced Out! The Final Frontier in Album Covers, presents 117 space-themed record album covers that were released between 1940 and 1969—the dawn of the space age. In these post-war years, humanity seemed to be on the verge of taking a giant leap into space, and popular culture reflected this through futuristic album themes.
Even if the music had nothing to do with space—which it often didn’t—artists insisted on a spaced-out theme for their cover art. Some album covers even display Seattle’s Space Needle as the focal point of the design for the Needle’s unique, space-oriented feel. The exhibition takes visitors back to when space was a mystery, and space exploration was adventurous and groovy.
“This is the first exhibition at EMP|SFM that truly encompasses both music and science fiction equally,” said Brooks Peck, curator of the exhibition. “Music buffs will enjoy this nostalgic look at a fun era of album cover design, and science fiction lovers will learn about the strong influence that science fiction had on popular culture in the mid-20th century.”
Graphic design buffs as well as vinyl record collectors and nostalgic baby boomers will appreciate the exhibition for its history and unique graphic elements. The exhibit will explore a variety of aspects of the fad, including musical themes and motifs found on the records and how excitement toward the space age was expressed in popular culture.
Organized by EMP|SFM, Spaced Out! The Final Frontier in Album Covers features albums from the collection of Cheryl Pawelski, the Vice President of A&R at Rhino Entertainment.
"I began collecting these albums first because I loved how beautiful some were, while others were just silly,” said Pawelski. “Over time I noticed that album covers with a space theme changed after we landed on the moon in 1969. The imagination that went into all of them captured my imagination."
The album covers reflect what people in the post-war era imagined space would be like. Musicians flocked to the fad and space themes invaded album covers of different genres, including pop, jazz, folk and classical.
The exhibition gives visitors of all ages an opportunity to experience first-hand some of the instruments used on the albums, including the Theremin, which was used to make “space sounds.” A listening station will also be available for visitors to hear 20 tracks from the albums on display. Those interested in creating their own interpretation of a spaced out album cover can star in their own version, complete with funky text, spaceships, planets and otherworldly objects. The visitor album covers will then be posted via slideshow in the exhibition.
The exhibition is scheduled to run through Jan. 3, 2010 on the third level of the EMP galleries. To preview a sampling of album covers, visit the exhibition section of www.empsfm.org.
Experience Music Project | Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame
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