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Sci-Fi Media

Sneak Peek at Paul Allen's Sci-Fi Museum 164

Posted by timothy
from the through-the-lurking-glass dept.
Comte writes "About three hundred charter members, local sci-fi cognoscenti and assorted geeks got a sneak peek last night of Paul Allen's $22 mm Science Fiction Museum prior to its official grand opening this Friday." Comte peeked, and contributes his impressions of the museum -- read on below to see what it's like. If you're in Seattle with a few hours, he says it's worth dropping in. (The rest of the text is his.)

The Museum, incorporated into Allen's "Experience Music Project" in the Frank Gehry-designed "Blob" at the foot of the Space Needle is divided into several sections, with "Homeworld" taking up the bulk of the mid-level. This exhibit includes "The Sci-Fi Hall Of Fame," along with a nifty timeline of s/f related events from history; a display system that projects stunning 3-D representations of planets onto a globular surface; "Not So Weird Science," focusing on how fiction has influenced scientific and technological innovation; and my personal favorite, "The Science Fiction Community," displaying examples of fan-fic, 'zines, and memorabilia that will have the most rabid s/f geek drooling in admiration: the legendary Forrest J. Ackerman's first published letter to Amazing Stories back in the 1930's (Ackerman is listed as a member of SFM's Advisary Board, along with other notables such as Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury & Greg Bear, just to name a few), a first-draft manuscript by Theodore Sturgeon, Ellison's Smith Corona manual typewriter, a signed, first-edition copy of Aldus Huxley's "Brave New World," the first Hugo Award presented to Ackerman in 1953, and other juicy items (many of which presumably come from Ackerman's personal collection).

One floor down are the other exhibits. "Fantastic Voyages" includes the much anticipated "Space Dock," a virtual representation of famous sci-fi spaceships (although a number of notable examples are missing: there's no TV Jupiter II, none of the ships from the "Alien" series, only one example from the "Star Trek" franchise, and no "Liberator," Eagles or TARDIS -- the Brits being generally underrepresented throughout the Museum), as well as the bulk of the prop and costume displays. Although this area tends to be rather heavy on TV/film memorabilia, there are still some choice items here: a model of the U.S. Capital dome used by Ray Harryhausen in "Earth Versus The Flying Saucers," original models from "Land Of The Giants," "Alien," "Close Encounters," the TV "Buck Rogers," "ET," and "Trek," along with a literal arsenal of weapons, including original phasers, a LIS blaster from Season One, a crossbow used by Jane Fonda in "Barbarella," and an original 1930's-era raygun from the Buck Rogers serials, among many others.

This is followed by perhaps the most disappointing section, "Brave New Worlds," encompassing the "Cities of Tomorrow" display, a CGI-driven exhibit similar to "Space Dock," but which only shows environments from three sources: a rather whimsical view of life in the 4th millenium courtesy of "The Jetson's," Ridley Scott's 21st-Century Los Angeles from "Blade Runner" (look for Dolly The Sheep on one of the rooftops!), and depictions from "The Matrix." This is followed by "Experimental Societies," basically just a display of the usual genre literature, and "Out Of The Ashes," currently limited to a few costume pieces from the 1968 "Planet Of The Apes."

The final section: "Them!" is pretty much what you'd expect -- a representation of aliens exclusively from TV/film media. The Queen Alien is pretty impressive up close, and there's a funny interplay set up between "Robbie The Robot" and "LIS's" B-9 using cleverly interspliced voice clips. At the end is a small gallery of sci-fi artwork, mostly inconsequential book-cover art, but with several pieces from acknowledged masters such as Chesley Bonestell, Frank R. Paul, and the real treat -- practically the entire collection of artwork produced by Fred Freeman and Rolf Klep for Werner von Braun's 1953 "Colliers" magazine series.

Overall, I'd say if you're interested in seeing a pretty good collection of items that encompasses more than just a "Planet Hollywood" style display of film memorabilia, then this is probably worth the $12.95 admission if you're in the neighborhood, particularly if you have at least two hours to spend going through the interactive exhibits. I'm not totally convinced it's worth the $40 to cough up for the annual membership, however, in speaking with one of the Museum staff, I was informed that some of the exhibits will change over time, with new items from Allen's extensive collection being swapped in and out. Otherwise, most of the displays are considered "permanent," although it seems pretty clear at least some of them can be replaced -- and in the case of "Brave New Worlds," probably should.

Photography is prohibited in the Museum (and the lighting level was too low for me to sneak any decent shots with my Zire 71), but if you want to take a gander at some press snaps of the exhibits, check out the Seattle Times "Inside" section.


Thanks to comte for the report.

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Sneak Peek at Paul Allen's Sci-Fi Museum

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  • Pictures (Score:5, Informative)

    by strictnein (318940) * <<moc.oohay> <ta> <todhsals-ooftcirts>> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:41PM (#9446353) Homepage Journal
    Took me a while to find them...

    Here [nwsource.com] (without the annoying popup)

    After seeing those... I'm disappointed to say the least.
    • After seeing those... I'm disappointed to say the least.

      Why? What were you expecting? It looks more interesting than the overrated Spy Museum we have here in DC...
      • more full mockup rooms/settings you can walk through
        you know... kind of a "walk through the future city" thing or "walk through a sci-fi setting from a movie or something else"
  • by tedtimmons (97599) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:41PM (#9446362) Homepage
    Okay, I'm going to save some time (and replies) on this thread and post a whole bunch of Seattle jokes. Perhaps that will cause the rest of this thread to avoid the obvious rain jokes and concentrate on more serious things, like hot grits and Natalie Portman.

    ----

    A newcomer to Seattle arrives on a rainy day. She gets up the next day and it's raining. It also rains the day after that, and the day after that. She goes out to lunch and sees a young kid and, out of despair, asks, "Hey, kid, does it ever stop raining around here?" The kid says, "How do I know? I'm only 6."

    ----

    "I can't believe it," said the tourist. "I've been here an entire week and it's done nothing but rain. When do you have summer here?" "Well, that's hard to say," replied the local. "Last year, it was on a Wednesday." ----

    A curious fellow died one day and found himself in limbo waiting in a long, long line for judgment. As he stood there, he noticed that some souls were allowed to march right through the gates of heaven. Others were led over to Satan, who threw them into a lake of fire. Every so often, instead of hurling a poor soul into the fire, Satan would toss him or her to one side.

    After watching Satan do this several times, the fellow's curiosity got the better of him. He strolled over and tapped the devil on the shoulder.

    "Excuse me, there, Your Darkness," he said. "I'm waiting in line for judgment, and I couldn't help wondering why you are tossing some people aside instead of flinging them into the fires of hell with the others?"

    "Ah," Satan said with a grin. "Those are from Seattle. They're too wet to burn."

    ----

    A Californian, a Texan and a man from Seattle meet in a bar. They are good friends and are chatting away, when suddenly, the Californian grabs a bottle of fine chardonnay, throws it up in the air, and shoots it coming back down.

    The Seattle guy and the Texan are naturally amazed! They say, "Now why the heck would you do a thing like that?" they ask. He replies, "Well, there's a lot of wine where I come from, so it's not really as important to me." The Texan says, "OK, whatever."

    About 5 minutes later, the Texan grabs a bottle of fine tequilla, throws it up in the air, and shoots it coming back down. The Californian and the Seattle guy say, "Lemme guess. There's a lot of tequilla where you come from, so it does't mean that much to you." Tex says, "Correct."

    About 3 minutes later, the Seattle guy finishes off his beer, throws the bottle up in the air, pulls out his gun and shoots the Californian, and finally catches the bottle coming back down. The Texan is totally stunned! "Now what in heck made you do that?!?!? You're probably going to be put in prison and executed!!!"

    The Seattle guy says, "Well there's a lot of Californians where I come from, and I thought I would recycle the bottle."

  • I wonder what Star Trek model is represented in DryDock? I'm hoping for the NCC-1701-A, that was an amazing model, and in the first movie, it was really painted out of this world, with also those varying applications of laquer all over the hull. Does anyone know what happened to this model?

    Imagine if they had the original HAL ship from Space 2001??? I bet that would take up the whole museum ... I read it's 60 feet long!
    • by cmowire (254489) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:47PM (#9446411) Homepage
      All of the props and whatnot for 2001 were destroyed, upon orders from Kubrick, who didn't want to see any sequels made, ever.

      Didn't stop 2010 from happening, mind you.
      • the style of 2010 was so radically different i'm not really sure it could be called a sequel
        • the style of 2010 was so radically different i'm not really sure it could be called a sequel

          Thye rebuilt some of the 2001 ships for 2010; the Discovery as well as some pods made an appearance.

      • Actually, it wasn't sequels he was worried about, he didn't want to see the models recycled into cheapo movies. It was common for a studio to recycle spaceships that were originally built for a lot of money by either flying them upside down, adding a fin, or, and I'm not making this up, backwards.

        Kubrick was fine with 2010, it was crap he wanted to avoid.
    • There's something about those models that make the ship look bigger and more real than the CGI stuff from TNG. It wasn't until Star Trek First Contact that I once again got the feel of a really big starship.
    • by Comte (138075)
      Sorry, it's the TOS 1701. "Discover" from "2001: A Space Odyssey" is in the dock as well (to respond to a query below), but KIM ALL these are done in CGI, so it really wasn't a problem to recreate models that no longer exist. My guess about the absence of certain ships is that it probably has more to do with licensing issues than anything else.
  • by artlu (265391) <artlu@ar[ ].net ['tlu' in gap]> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:43PM (#9446374) Homepage Journal
    Maybe this has to do with Paul Allen sponsoring the space flight. He seems to be spending a lot of money these days like most really rich people.. maybe he would be interested in throwing some my way for GroupShares Inc. [groupshares.com].. but then again it is Microsoft money.
    Aj
  • by StefanJ (88986) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:45PM (#9446387) Homepage Journal
    Ira Flatow's "Science Friday" will broadcast from the museum on Friday 6/18.

    Paul Allen, David Brin, Octavia Butler and others will be interviewed in the first hour.

    The second hour will be about Mars, factual and science fictional.

    Here is NPR's information page:

    http://www.sciencefriday.com/pages/2004/Jun/hour1_ 061804.html [sciencefriday.com]

    Stefan Jones
  • by BluedemonX (198949) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:46PM (#9446401)
    How soon can I expect to see sales taxes in Washington State go up to pay for this useless monstrosity?

    I find it highly ironic that although the man has more money than God, Paul Allen still manages to convince the State to pass on the cost of his narcissistic pet projects on to the rest of us.
    • While I agree with you on the stadium thing, I think he foot the bill for this one. I am happy he did.

      And if you want to live in a city devoid of any culture I am sure we could look hard enough and find one. Detroit?
      • I think this time, we're off the hook, as SFAIK, there isn't any public sector investment in SFM.
        • RE: I think this time, we're off the hook, as SFAIK, there isn't any public sector investment in SFM.

          I think what you mean to say is, I think this time, we're off the hook, as SFAIK, there isn't any public sector investment in SFM.... YET.

          By the way, if you want to refer to NFL football and a bunch of plastic toys from a nerd garage sale as "culture" go right ahead. And people from this area wonder why people don't think of the Pacific Northwest as cultured. Here's a hint. Wear a CLEAN flannel lumberjack
          • Hey, we got culture here in the Upper Left Hand! World-class symphony orchestras, opera companies, and Asian Art museums, plus more live theatre than you can shake a rain-sodden stick at.

            None of which have any connection to Paul Allen, BTW.
    • I ALWAYS miss the subjects when there aren't very many posts.

    • I'm still waiting for the streetcar.

      As someone who works along the Streetcar route, I have watched his Vulcan Ventures people come in and bribe all the businesses along the way.

      He is a work of art...
  • Where's the Kzinti (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:47PM (#9446414)
    I can't believe that there's nothing on Pohl Anderson, Ringworld or Kzinti. This is the best escape SiFi ever written. It must be fixed.
    • I've never read "Escape from Pohl Anderson." Is he a terrific bore at parties or something?
    • by GileadGreene (539584) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:23PM (#9446707) Homepage
      Uh, you seem a little confused on names. Do you mean Frederik Pohl, or Poul Anderson (both quite distinctly different authors)? Or were you really trying to name Larry Niven - the guy who wrote Ringworld and the Known Space stuff (including the Man-Kzin wars) - and just totally confused about who authored what?
      • I really meant Larry Niven. I don't know why I was thinking about Poul Anderson, except that he's good as well and not mentioned.

        To further the error, I googled "Pohl Anderson", got a zillion hits and assumed I spelled it right.

        Alas, what's a karma whore to do?
        • Actually, Poul Anderson did write a few Man-Kzin Wars stories. Niven let a lot of ppl in to play in his universe. Which is just as well, since it means there's Man-Kzin-based stories which aren't erotic furries. "Ringworld Throne" - eep! I don't want to speculate too much about Niven's private life, but I think he should be kept well clear of any cats/dogs/sheep...

          Grab.
    • I can't believe that there's nothing on Pohl Anderson, Ringworld or Kzinti. This is the best escape SiFi ever written. It must be fixed.

      This was close to my thought. In my mind, Science Fiction is a WRITTEN art form. But I guess a museum of books would be called a "library", not a museum.

      But imagine a set of displays that shows common Sci Fi themes from the point of view of various authors. Or perhaps a display showing what sci-fi predictions have (or havn't) come true. Yes, it's difficult demonstrat

      • "Or perhaps a display showing what sci-fi predictions have (or havn't) come true" -- this in fact is the point of the "Not So Weird Science" exhibit, in addition to a smaller exhibit I failed to mention, "Science Fiction And Society", which explores how s/f examines and shapes our lives.

        And I should point out that the upper section of the Museum is VERY literature oriented.
    • I'm aware of his work!
  • What movie is picture No. 9 from?
    • Re:No. 9? (Score:2, Informative)

      by filmguru (710596)
      Um... are you putting me on?

      If you're refering to the pics in the seattlepi.com site, number nine is the car from the film Blade Runner (as it clearly states in the caption to the right).
    • Plan 9 from outerspace , think it was from ed wood .
    • by amstrad (60839)
      You mean this picture #9 [nwsource.com]?

      The one with the caption that reads "The Spinner flying car from the movie "Blade Runner" (1982) hangs in the third-floor special events area."?
  • by spectecjr (31235) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:48PM (#9446420) Homepage
    Doctor Who - the longest running Sci Fi series ever.

    Farscape - possibly one of the best Sci Fi series ever.

    And NEITHER are represented in the museum, it seems.

    What kind of crack are they smoking?

    Oh right - silly me - if it ain't Robby the Effing Robot or Captain Kirk and Baldy Picard, it ain't Sci Fi.
    • Actually, Moya DOES appear in the "Space Dock" exhibit, and there are a couple of minor references to "Doctor Who" scattered throughout, but again the emphasis on U.S. s/f may simply be due to (as I stated in an earlier post) issues with licensing rights, or because memorabilia from these series aren't readily available. After all, it doesn't matter how much $$ Allen has, if there aren't items to be purchased, even he can't do much about it.
      • No Doctor Who merchandise/memorabilia/props? Shurely shome mishtake...

        More likely, perhaps, is that all the Doctor Who stuff has already been bought by fans, and Allen couldn't be bothered asking anyone for it.

        Grab.
        • I know there are several Doctor Who collectors over here in the states, and just last year Ian Levine (super fan) was selling some of his props. That included at least one cyberman helmet. I seriously doubt Allen would have any trouble at all buying or getting on loan anything Who related he wanted. Whether he could get permission from the BBC to display it is another matter entirely, although I've no doubt he could work that out if he really wanted to.
  • by clandaith (187570) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:51PM (#9446453) Homepage
    They took the action figures [nwsource.com] out of their original packaging!?!?!?!
    • But of course, that just increases the value of the action figures IOP that Paul STILL owns!
    • Re:OH DEAR GOD! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172)
      A friend of mine who knows my fondness for 1950s and 60s Italian racing cars recently showed up at my door bearing gifts, two Hot Wheels cars, a 1961 Ferrari 156 F1 and a 1967 Ferrari P4, that he just happened to see while grocery shopping and thought I'd like them.

      "Kewl!", says I, and start to open them.

      "What are you doing!?", says he.

      "Ummmmmmm, I'm opening them?", I respond.

      "What for?", he asks with a slightly incredulous look on his face.

      "So I can spend the next hour or two pushing them around my de
    • True story, one of my friends makes a fortune re-packaging star wars figures into custom boxes that are similar to when the action figures were still hanging out at Kmart. He doesn't pass them off as originals, part of the value is to have a different package on your figure. I don't get it, but he was getting 300 bucks a pop for these things. It's very difficult to find the clear plastic to glue to the cardboard.

  • I want to see a Stevecutus of borg exhibit! Resistance is FUTILE!@%#
  • i know this guy is rich, but can he afford to keep throwing away money?
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:00PM (#9446527) Homepage Journal
    That will no doubt go bankrupt on investors eventually. Wish I could form limited liability companies as quickly as that guy does.
    • Which will undoubtedly save him money on income taxes. Can't think of a better way to rip off the public while appearing like a philanthropist.

      For other schemes, check out Perfectly Legal [perfectlyl...hebook.com] by David Cay Johnston. The catch? Level of wealth required is not available to 99% of Americans.

    • Yet another Allen project...

      Would that be.... "The Allen Parsons Project!"
      BA-pam! BAA-pam!!

      Perhaps?

      • I was thinking less humorous and more factual:

        1. Oregon Arenas Incorporated- owned by Paul Allen, recently went bankrupt leaving bond holders on the Rose Garden in the lurch to the tune of $13 Million.
        2. Trail Blazers- an NBA team on the verge of bankruptcy due to valuing talent over team morale and customer loyalty
        3. Mentor Graphics- moving jobs offshore quickly in an effort to stay afloat.

        And that's just the ones I'm aware of, I'm sure there are others.
        • You forgot that the public is going to be on the hook to fix the PoS stadium he built. How about the raping of the South Lake Union neighborhood? That's right - when he was unsuccessful in bulldozing it to turn it into a homeless encampment^W^Wpark, he's just going to kick out all the small businesses there for some biotech pipedream. Oh, and how about the home of the SFM? That would be the eyesore right underneath the Space Needle known as EMP.
  • Why no photography? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by istewart (463887) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:09PM (#9446593)
    I notice that this new museum doesn't allow visitors to photograph the exhibits, much like Allen's Heritage Flight Museum or whatever the hell it's called that has a lot of vintage aircraft. This gives me the impression that Allen's being just a little vain with something he's ostenstibly putting on public display... and perhaps perpetuating the intellectual-property protection mantra of his old pals at Microsoft. Can anybody here give a valid reason for prohibiting photography?
    • Isn't it obvious? The more you come back, the more he can shaft you for at the inevitable gift shop.
      • The more you come back, the more he can shaft you for at the inevitable gift shop.

        You're almost right. The reason that many museums, churches, etc forbid photography is that it cuts into postcard and poster sales.

        It's a funny balancing act; make the museum unfriendly to photographers and you discourage them from visiting again, after all you can't photograph a whole museum in a day, maybe a better business model is to be photo-friendly and make your money on photographers coming back to complete shoots.
    • Ever been to an event where they announce "no flash photography", especially when they say it's for the performer's safety...and then during the event, the flashes go off? That's likely because there are too many idjits who don't know how to use their cameras.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Flashes are very hard on the exhibits. They'll bleach out things faster than sunshine.

      And as another poster pointed out, too many cameras have stupid users and will flash whenever photographs are taken in dim light. Disposable cams don't even have a switch to disable the flash. It's easier to just prohibit photography altogether.

      [S]
      • I also suspect there may be licensing issues with some of the exhibits... Just a suspicion mind you... no one would actually do such a thing... Would they? [grin, duck, run like h...]
        • I also suspect there may be licensing issues with some of the exhibits...

          What possible licensing issues could prevent someone from taking a photo of something? People imagine that IP laws are even more draconian than they are.

          Most museums ban photography because of the annoyance and possible damage from flashes, and because they sell postcards, books, etc in their giftshops. Art museums don't want people to use a photo to sell prints of their art, though if the art is old (out of copyright) and you can

    • Best reason I can think of is, for $22 million, it may seem more than a little dinky.

      And, while everyone is complaining about the grave ommissions, here's mine:

      The greatest time-travel series ever made. [tvparty.com] Imogene Coca as Shad. Joe E. Ross as Gronk. Mike Mazursky as Clon.

      One blessed season. The end of which leaves me, still, unconsolable.

    • Because when everyone sees pics posted online of just how lame the museum is, they won't want to bother going there themselves... [I keeeed....well, sort of...]
    • by westendgirl (680185) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:42PM (#9446865) Homepage
      Many museums ban photography. In some cases, intellectual property may be at stake. However, many museums have banned photography because flash lights damage artefacts.

      In this MP3 clip on flash photography's effect on art [radio.cbc.ca], CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks interviews Dr. Tito Scaiano, professor of chemistry at the University of Ottawa.

      Artefacts absorb light, and thus molecules. The molecules convert the energy to heat, but sometimes a molecule changes chemical structure, resulting in a visible change. When a photo is absorbed, it pushes the molecule to a higher energy state that breaks the bond. In other cases, it promotes oxidization. Organic pigments are more sensitive than inorganic pigments (which are already fairly oxidized). In other words, flash photography can lead to deterioration of an artefact, not to mention changes to the pigment.

      Although aircraft may not be as sensitive as the Mona Lisa, it's still possible that flash photography could damage the artefact. An art student told me that his professor confided that one flash was equivalent to three days of natural light. I don't know if that's entirely true, but I've heard the warning repeated.

      Although some people might not use flashes, even a small percentage of wrong-doers could eventually ruin an artefact. For example, when I saw the Mona Lisa, about 30% of the crowd was taking flash photos. The Mona Lisa is behind 3 inches of plexiglass, but the flashes do take their toll [globeandmail.com].

      The Straight Dope also answers a question about flash photography's damage to art [straightdope.com].

      • In other words, flash photography can lead to deterioration of an artefact, not to mention changes to the pigment.

        But I've visited places where they didn't want you to photograph the stained glass windows! Sacreligious, some might say? Sure, says I, just point me to "thou shalt not photograph in the house of the Lord" in the Bible.

        Banning flashes, OK, no problem. In the V&A, there are exhibits in near dark rooms, they're so worried about light damage to priceless art. But banning photography outright
  • by blamanj (253811) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:24PM (#9446715)
    The MS millionaires are making Seattle an interesting-looking place. In addition to the Gehry-designed rock museum [greatbuildings.com], they just opened a very cool new public library [spl.org].
  • Ah... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Digitus1337 (671442)
    The Joy of Making Love to Steve Allen. (See also: The Joy of a Naked Steven Allen and The Joy of Cooking Steven Allen
  • I was one of the few that got to attend the preview last night, and was mostly disappointed. See detailed review here [blogspot.com].
  • by Artifex (18308) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:39PM (#9446848) Journal
    Before the opening, the museum's website [sciencefic...rience.com] had information on lending props and other materials to the museum. I suspect that a lot of the rotating "stock" will be moved in and out as people lend, then want their artifacts back.

    I looked at this museum a while back, in fact, because I was considering lending out props I have from Battlestar Galactica, but as you can see [battlestar...caclub.com], I decided not to do so, because I was concerned about their safety.

    (If anyone else goes to the museum, I'd like to know if there's a BG section, and what it's like, etc.)
  • Is the one on exhibit the fullsize, original filming model as detailed here [cloudster.com]? If so, I'm somewhat sad that it's in Paul Allen's hands... someday I'll have to make him an offer he can't refuse. :)
  • i went there (Score:5, Informative)

    by adpowers (153922) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @07:22PM (#9447222)
    I went to the grand opening sneak peak thing last night. I'll add a few comments.

    First of all, like the Experience Music Project next door, there was a ton of memorabilia. It had everything from one of Darth Vader's mask (one used by a stunt man), to the Cricket from Men in Black, to a gun from Galaxy Quest, to original Star Trek stories (written on by Nichelle Nichols), to a poster about the Babel fish.

    The museum was linear and seemed to flow well from one section to the other. However, that means there doesn't seem like much room for expansion, as the musuem is sort of small. At EMP next door, they have lots of different sections where they can have permanent exhibits (like Northwest passage which has never changed), semi-permanent exhibits (ones that last for years at a time), and traveling exhibits (ones that last for a few months, like the recent Disco exhibit). At the SciFi museum, there didn't appear to be any room for traveling exhibits, which is unfortunate. Upstairs they had had a stage area with refreshments. I guess this will be used for guest speakers and presentations later on.

    The tech was really neat, however. In the first section, as the poster mentioned, there is a large globe with video on it. It goes through a rotation of clips from movies, to quotes over a starry background, to a projection of planets. It was impressive how seemless it was, considering the video came from four projectors surrounding it.

    The space dock was interesting. In front of you is a huge screen with the different ships flying around (like the Planet Express from Futurama). There are touch screens for individuals to use where you can look up ships stats and watch a video clip about it. If I remember correctly, the screen was sort of 3D. It had a background video screen layer and then another clear layer in front of that. It wasn't quite 3D, because it only had two layers. I didn't flip through all the ships, so I can't comment on the size of the catalog.

    The next cool tech thing was a small globe with touch screen in front of it. You click on one of the six planets you want to see (Hoth, the one from Dune, Solaris, and some others). It plays videos on the screen, then turns the globe in front of you into that planet using projectors. It was pretty neat, but the voice talking about the planet was a little hard to hear.

    Finally was the cityscape thing, which was disappointing. Like the poster mentioned, it only contained three cityscapes. It has a lot of potential if they add more, but it is just isn't there yet. The ones they did do turned out pretty well, though. There a lot of little details to look at and it gives you an idea of the city.

    Overall it was pretty neat, but didn't seem to have that much of a 'replay' value. I wish they had room for temporary exhibits, because those would increase the value of a membership. However, this provides a good place for guest speakers. I believe this friday there is going to be a talk on the physics of Star Trek.

    Oh, something I forgot to mention, in the first section they had a history of fandom, which was interesting. They showed a lot of original fanzines and letters exchanged between fans. A lot of the original fans later turned into writers themselves.

    Overall, I think it had a good range of SciFi from the beginning (Frankenstein) to the present. It was a little small, though. The tech parts of the show were impressive, but could probably use some more content.

    Well, that is my review. I didn't proofread, so don't be a grammar Nazi.

    Andrew
  • I went and browsed the museum website. Unless I'm grossly misinterpreting, it seems as though more exhibits are going to be added and switched out as the collection grows.

    I'm glad to see that someone has undertaken the task of creating a museum setting for so much of this memorabilia. (Even if it is a vanity effort.) Many early films are known only from their titles and a few salvaged props -- the films themselves have degraded into cellulose dust. I find it sad that so much of the early history of cinema h

  • Buy a clue Paul... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alomex (148003) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @08:59PM (#9447929) Homepage
    Paul Allen doesn't get it. Museums have exhibits of objects made on a visual medium, like paintings and sculptures. How exactly is a museum setting appropriate for a music collection for Jimmy Hendrix? who wants to see a twenty feet high pile of electric guitars, all of which look pretty much like the other, but they just so happen to have been owned at some point in time by oldie band X?

    Not content with all the EMP fiasco now he brings us a museum of science fiction! Not a library or a cinematheque of science fiction but a museum!

    I know people like to say Allen was the smart one and Gates was not, but so far the record goes the other way. I take Bill's purchase of the Leonardo da Vinci documents over the EMP any time.

    • There are plenty of people willing to pay $11 for a burder at Planet Hollywood or Hard Rock Cafe. I have seen Battlestar Galactica items at a Planet Hollywood.
    • by Jonathan (5011)
      Paul Allen doesn't get it. Museums have exhibits of objects made on a visual medium, like paintings and sculptures. How exactly is a museum setting appropriate for a music collection for Jimmy Hendrix? who wants to see a twenty feet high pile of electric guitars, all of which look pretty much like the other, but they just so happen to have been owned at some point in time by oldie band X?

      It sounds like your definition of a "museum" has to be an art museum. Personally, I find art museums dull -- after I've
      • It sounds like your definition of a "museum" has to be an art museum.

        Not at all. My definition of museum is those things that are best displayed in large halls, whatever they are. For example, interactive science displays often work out well in this setting. But guess what Sherlock? A music "exhibition" works out best in a "jazz cafe"-like setting than in a "Louvre"-like EMP setting. You really have to be there to realize how dull it is to see jacket upon jacket of Jimmy Hendrix albums when what you reall
  • by geekotourist (80163) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:21PM (#9448048) Journal
    As an SF fan, I'm often slightly annoyed ("slightly" because I've become used to it) at the ignorance (1) of the differences between written and media SF as shown by pop culture writers and reviewers. The media coverage given to the museum will reduce this ignorance by some amount- however marginal- that's good.

    Most media SF is 30-40 years behind written SF, both in topics and style. Few current SF movie or TV shows show concepts that weren't already old-hat in the 1970's SF literature. This museum doesn't seem to be afraid of gently pointing this out. As many board members are SF writers I could guess how they'd push giving credit where it is due. Of course the movies have had much more influence in terms of numbers of people seeing them (I read a calculation saying 23 of the top 25 movies by popularity have been SF/fantasy [4brad.com]).

    But for influence on science and technology- the books and stories have done quite a lot more. For one example, I like a quote [boingboing.net] that Cory Doctorow (who does fine post-singularity writing [craphound.com]) has on Neuromancer:

    "Neuromancer didn't predict the future. Neuromancer *created* the future. If you would understand the past twenty years' technological advance and retreat, this book is required reading. I re-read it every year, just to get an edge on the year that's coming, and to glory in Gibson's prose and cunning artifice."
    I think Heinlein created more engineers than Sputnik did.

    (1) When talking about SF topics, pop writers can get away with a show of ignorance that wouldn't work for many other genres. How many reviewers compare a movie to anything more than other movies and/or "the Time Machine, F451, Ray Bradbury, Star Wars, the Matrix [and if they've done extra research] P.K.Dick"? That'd be like mystery reviewers starting with A.C. Doyle and ending with Agatha Christie. How many reviews of books like "Prey," "Oryx and Crake," "Children of Men" or "Fatherland" mention anything about similar SF books (books written in some cases decades before) and instead talk about how original the popular author's idea is? (For example CoM published in the early 90's, vs Greybeard published in the early 60's. Many reviews of the former didn't mention the latter.)

  • ...is not part of the "Hall of Fame." It's embarrassing if you ask me.
  • tps interview (Score:3, Informative)

    by devonbowen (231626) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @03:05AM (#9449690) Homepage
    The Planetary Society has an audio interview with Donna Shirley about the museum here [planetary.org].

    Devon

  • The Microsoft founder you love to hate. Slightly less than the other one, that is ;-)

    But face it, wouldn't you rather be Allen with millions in the bank doing something that interests you, and not Gates with billions in the bank, married to the woman responsible for Bob [thefreedictionary.com]?

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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