Skip to the content

July 26, 2023

Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) Receives
“Thousands of Unique Artifacts from Estate of Paul G. Allen

Bequest Includes One-of-a-Kind Collectibles from Decades,
of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Rock ‘n’ Roll

JULY 26, 2023 – SEATTLE – 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.

“This one-of-a-kind bequest reflects Paul’s lifelong passion for how creativity of all kinds and spanning multiple genres is an inspiration. We would like to thank the Allen Estate for this generous donation. This next chapter will be pivotal for MoPOP as what we do now will define the future for our museum and our community, as we believe that creative expression is a life changing force, but I believe it’s a community and world-changing force,” Michele Y. Smith CEO of MoPOP said. “These artifacts and their stories wonderfully support our continued mission to use the power of pop culture to spark joy, elevate diverse voices, and to use that power to bring audiences, stories, and histories from pop culture that are not always seen on museum walls. It’s an opportunity to not only celebrate icons of the past, but current and future creators as well to spark joy, reflection, and creativity for our visitors from around the world.”

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; 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 Backhandwritten lyrics by David Bowie for “Starman” from the early 1970s; the motorcycle jacket worn by Prince in his 1984 film Purple Raina 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 Ozand a full-size flying “Spinner” vehicle from the 1982 film Blade Runner, among many other items.

Jacob McMurray, Director of Curatorial, Collections, and Exhibits said, “MoPOP’s permanent collection and exhibitions showcase the unique role that popular culture plays in our lives - whether we realize it’s there or not. The artifacts in this bequest offer an extraordinary enhancement to our current and upcoming exhibitions, where they will surprise and delight visitors from around the world. Having had the pleasure to work with some of these objects in the past, and now the opportunity to integrate many others into MoPOP’s collection, we are thrilled to be able to highlight the impact and resonance of these artifacts and how they have helped shaped our popular culture.” 

Several dozen artifacts from the bequest are currently on display in Infinite Worlds of Science FictionFantasy: Worlds of Myth & Magic, Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film, Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Massesand 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 is a leading-edge nonprofit museum in Seattle, dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary pop culture. With a mission to make creative expression a life-changing force by offering experiences that inspire and connect our communities, MoPOP reaches multigenerational audiences through our collections, exhibitions, educational programs and community partnerships. At MoPOP, artists, audiences, and ideas converge, bringing understanding, interpretation, and scholarship to the pop culture of our time. 


MoPOP, Marketing Communications