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Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses details the history of the iconic Grunge band Nirvana within a larger context of the development of Punk from the mid-1970s onward.

Curator: Jacob McMurray
Exhibition Design: Curious Beast
Interactive Design: Belle & Wissell
Graphic Design: Belle & Wissell
Films: David Wulzen
Art Direction: Jacob McMurray, Ken Burns
Fabrication: Addy Froehlich, Nick Rempel
Exhibition Score: Steve Fisk, Downtown Composer Collective

Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, April 16, 2011 - March 19, 2017
Museu Histórico Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20 - August 20, 2017
Lounge Bienal, São Paulo, Brazil, September 12 - December 12, 2017
Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, March 16, 2018 - present

In late 1991, Nirvana exploded on the national music scene, transforming Seattle and the Pacific Northwest from a faraway backwater to the epicenter of popular music culture. Nirvana's infectious single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” saturated the airwaves and MTV, sparking a worldwide grunge revolution, extinguishing the rule of hair metal and giving birth to alternative rock.

This is the public and personal story of Nirvana, from their early roots in Aberdeen, Washington, to the dizzying scope of the world stage. This is also the story of the underground music scene, of which Nirvana was a part, as it developed within the Pacific Northwest and throughout the United States from the birth of punk rock in the mid-1970s. For over a decade, underground bands made inroads into the mainstream, but Nirvana was the final step in this process. With a single song, the barrier between underground and mainstream culture shattered. Nirvana was a band for only six years, but they changed music forever, delivering the message of their punk roots wrapped in a pop package, and taking punk to the masses.

Selected Press:
  • Consequence of Sound: “Experience Music Project’s Nirvana Exhibit: Taking Punk to the Masses”︎
  • MTV.com: “Nirvana exhibit leads fans through band’s humble start, meteoric rise” ︎
  • The Seattle Times: “EMP | SFM Nirvana exhibit recalls once-in-a-lifetime moment” ︎
  • Rolling Stone: “Preview the Experience Music Project’s Massive Nirvana Exhibit” ︎
  • The Rio Times: “Exhibit ‘Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses’ Opens in Rio”︎