16 Museums and Exhibits for Pop Culture Buffs
Can’t get enough of all things pop culture? Plan a trip to one of these museums or exhibits that offer an in-depth look at your favorite movies, TV shows and musicians.
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Photo By: The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism
Photo By: Thanassi Karageorgiou / Museum of the Moving Image
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Photo By: The Beatles Story, Liverpool
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Downton Abbey: The Exhibition
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition made its debut in New York City in November 2017 and will be open for a limited time before it travels to other locations. Situated between Broadway and 7th Avenue, the exhibit showcases costumes and props from the beloved period drama, as well as recreations of favorite sets including Mrs. Patmore’s hectic kitchen and the Crawley family’s elegant dining room. For an even more immersive experience, make plans to attend a Downton Abbey Soiree in January 2018 for cocktails, Edwardian-inspired hors-d'oeuvres and a wait staff dressed in period costume.
My Name is Prince
Running through Jan. 7, 2018, this exhibit at the O2 in London celebrates the legacy of one of pop music’s most influential figures. My Name is Prince features hundreds of never-before-seen artifacts from Paisley Park, Prince’s estate in Minnesota. Don’t miss clothing from the 1984/1985 Purple Rain tour and the cloud guitar made for Prince’s 2007 Super Bowl halftime performance. The exhibit also features a section where fans can leave a tribute to the legendary artist.
Jurassic World: The Exhibition
Home to one of the best dinosaur collections in the world, Chicago’s Field Museum now brings the fictional Jurassic World theme park to life with this immersive exhibit. Get up close and personal with lifelike animatronic versions of a stealthy Velociraptor, a towering Brachiosaurus and a fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex. Created in collaboration with renowned paleontologist Jack Horner, Jurassic World: The Exhibition also features interactive educational elements drawn from the real-world science of dinosaur DNA.
Saturday Night Live: The Experience
Relive 40 years of SNL history at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. Saturday Night Life: The Experience takes visitors through the hectic six-day process of putting the show together, plus displays iconic sets like Celebrity Jeopardy and the Wayne’s World basement. The exhibit ends with a full-scale replica recreation of Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center.
Rolling Stones: Exhibitionism
Currently at the Palazzo in Las Vegas for its limited West Coast engagement, Rolling Stones: Exhibitionism tells the story of one of the most influential rock 'n’ roll bands in the world. See more than 500 pieces of Stones memorabilia, including artwork, vintage guitars, and personal diaries and letters. It all culminates in a 3D concert finale.
Museum of the Moving Image
Ever wonder how your favorite movies or TV shows are made? If so, head to the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. The museum’s core exhibit, Behind the Screen, features more than 1,400 artifacts and 10 interactive experiences explaining how movies and TV shows are created, marketed and experienced. You’ll also find a permanent exhibit dedicated to the life and legacy of Jim Henson (pictured), as well as several temporary exhibits.
Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition
Inspired by the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition debuted at the historic Museu Maritim in Barcelona, Spain, in October 2017. The 10,000-square-foot interactive experience features authentic props and costumes from the show, as well as themed exhibition spaces inspired by the wintry landscapes of the North and the regal settings of King’s Landing, among others. The impressive Iron Throne Room serves as the centerpiece of the exhibit.
The Hollywood Museum
The Hollywood Museum houses the most extensive collection of Tinseltown memorabilia in the world. See more than 10,000 treasures from some of the most well-known movies and TV shows ever made, from costumes to props to scripts. The museum is set in the historic Max Factor Building, where the legendary make-up artist created the looks for some of the biggest stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era. Max Factor’s makeup rooms have been authentically restored at the museum, so you can see where Marilyn Monroe became a blonde and Lucille Ball got her famous red hair.
The Beatles Story
Set in the Fab Four’s hometown of Liverpool, England, The Beatles Story is the world’s largest permanent exhibit devoted to telling the story of The Beatles’ rise to fame. See recreations of key locations from the band’s career such as The Casbah Club, The Cavern Club (pictured) and Abbey Road Studios, and check out fascinating memorabilia including the band’s original instruments and John Lennon’s New York piano.
Harry Potter: The Exhibition
Experience the magical world of Harry Potter at this traveling exhibit, currently open at IFEMA in Madrid, Spain, through April 2, 2018. Authentic props, costumes and creatures from the films are displayed in settings inspired by Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, including the Gryffindor common room, classrooms like Potions and Herbology, and the Forbidden Forest. Since its world premiere in Chicago, Harry Potter: The Exhibition has received more than 4 million visitors and included stops in Boston, Tokyo, Paris and several other cities.
London Film Museum
The London Film Museum is home to the Bond in Motion exhibit, where you can view more than 100 original vehicles and artifacts spanning all 24 James Bond films. The museum most recently launched Cars of Spectre, featuring cars and props from the 2015 flick.
The Walt Disney Family Museum
The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco highlights the fascinating life and career of pioneering film producer Walt Disney. A few must-see items within the 40,000-square-foot space include the earliest known drawings of Mickey Mouse, Disney’s 26 Academy Awards and a 14-foot diameter model of Disneyland (pictured). The museum was founded by Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, the famous Rock Hall honors the musicians who have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as the overall history of rock music. Don’t miss one of the museum’s newest features: The Power of Rock (pictured). Part of a multimillion-dollar renovation, this experience captures the highlights of 31 years of induction ceremonies with concert-quality sound, larger-than-life video and fan interactivity.
Museum of Pop Culture
Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture offers a little something for everyone, from movie buffs to music aficionados to TV devotees. Explore more than 100 Star Trek artifacts in the Exploring New Worlds exhibit, peruse iconic photos of David Bowie in Bowie by Mick Rock, and watch interviews with top horror directors in Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film. Coming soon, the largest exhibit ever staged at MoPOP will celebrate Marvel superheroes.
Opened in 2008 in Los Angeles, the GRAMMY Museum celebrates all forms of music and the history of the GRAMMY Awards. The 30,000-square-foot space features both permanent and traveling exhibits. A few current exhibits include X: 40 Years of Punk in Los Angeles (pictured), Michael Jackson: A Musical Legacy and Katy Perry Frock & Roll: Transforming Music and Fashion.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Called the "Smithsonian of country music," the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is located in the heart of downtown Nashville, Tennessee, and boasts an unrivaled collection of country music artifacts. Even the building’s architecture is an ode to music: The windows resemble piano keys, and when viewed from above, the museum is in the shape of a bass clef.