As part of our celebration honoring 20 years of the Museum of Pop Culture, we'll take time throughout 2020 to get to know some of MoPOP's most dedicated visitors and supporters.
MoPOP members receive somepretty cool perks, but perhaps more importantly, each member's continued support of our nonprofit museum helps fund our world-class exhibitions and community programming. This month we hear from Brenda Donner, who is one of many aiding MoPOP's mission of making creative expression a life-changing force.
How long have you been a member and what initially drew you to MoPOP?
Brenda: I became a member in April, 2000. I had read in the newspaper—this is before the internet days—that there was going to be this cool museum coming up. Plus, I was reading about Frank Gehry designing it, so very interested in the architecture. I joined because I love music. It was going to be a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. First of all, please; the guy is a Seattle icon and his music is totally timeless. So I was in immediately just to say it's a Hendrix museum. Then I saw the lineup for the opening concerts in June of 2000. I am a metalhead. Metallica performing, I'm all over it. So I signed up, immediately said, 'Yes, I'm going to be a member.' I wanted to support the museum because I loved Hendrix. I thought it was a great idea to have one place for Hendrix memorabilia to be housed. That's why I joined initially, Metallica and Hendrix.
How have you seen the museum evolve and grow up since then? What's been the driving factor behind your continued support?
Brenda: You put your finger on it. Evolution. It has evolved. Originally it was a Hendrix museum, then it became popular music, Experience Music Project, so different types of music. I am a metalhead, but it's good for me to be exposed to different types of music. When you get an exhibit in that I never heard about, I'm going to go. I'm a member, I'm going to go anyway and it'll expose me to different types of music. I like the fact that it has kept its core Hendrix exhibit as permanent, but you have a chance to get exposed to other types of music. And then of course it evolved later on. We got science fiction and some other things that came in to make it become the Museum of Pop Culture. I liked that it expanded. This is a unique niche here. As far as I know, there is not another museum entity that supports popular culture and exposes us to popular culture. I think that's a very relevant thing for us to to do is to be exposed to things that we're not familiar with. It helps us grow as people. It helps us interact better with others and it makes us more knowledgeable.
Why do you think it's beneficial to take in other types of music or popular culture that you may not be as familiar with?
Brenda: I think if you just have this narrow little path you go down, you don't expose yourself to other things, you become narrow-minded or 'I only like this'—you sound like an old person first of all. And secondly, you don't get to experience different types of cultures. Reggae. I never listened to reggae. So you get a reggae exhibit here, I'm going to go check it out. Bob Marley—hey, way cool. I think it behooves you as a global citizen to sit there and try to experience other types of music, other types of cultures. Why not? It's one itty-bitty planet. Let's all see what's out here to experience.
What do you tell your friends about MoPOP?
Brenda: These are immersive experiences that you get here. You don't just go to a museum and stare at a painting. You get to experience. Go stand next to Chewbacca and see how big he was. Go sit at the console on the bridge at Star Trek. There's a lot of immersive things here, and I like that.
In your 20 years as a MoPOP member, what's been your most memorable experience?
Brenda: Oh, AC/DC: Australia's Family Jewels (2012). That was an awesome exhibit. They really set it up very well to go through and the artifacts that they had—motorcycle jackets, handwritten lyrics for "Highway to Hell"—and I cannot possibly be the only person who stood in front of those lyrics and started singing along as I'm reading what Bon Scott wrote. That was an incredible exhibit. Another exhibition that I really liked, the one thing I remember out of it was Gene Simmons' boots—that man had platform boots. I do not know how KISS can possibly stand on stage if every single one of them were wearing boots with 5-inch platforms. How do they stand, let alone jump on stage? I think I broke my ankle looking at those boots.
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