MoPOP: Exploring the Intersection of Pop Culture and Fine Art

MoPOP: Exploring the Intersection of Pop Culture and Fine Art

Michele Y. Smith, MoPOP’s CEO, Shares Her Vision for the Museum’s Future

Seattle’s iconic Space Needle is not the only architectural marvel in the city’s skyline. Nestled next to it is the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), a techno-organic structure designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Originally launched in 2000 as the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, MoPOP has since evolved into a multifaceted institution that celebrates the diverse realms of pop culture. Under the leadership of CEO Michele Y. Smith, MoPOP is poised to embark on a new chapter, exploring the power of pop culture and its impact on society.

Unveiling the Power of Pop Culture:

MoPOP houses several galleries, including one of the largest indoor LED screens globally, showcasing exhibitions that span cinema, television, video games, and music. While the museum boasts an impressive collection of memorabilia, it also places a strong emphasis on education. In 2006, MoPOP exhibited Paul Allen’s art collection, featuring works by renowned artists such as Lichtenstein, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Monet. Additionally, the institution is home to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, honoring influential figures like Leonard Nimoy and John Williams.

A Journey to MoPOP:

Michele Y. Smith, MoPOP’s CEO, brings a wealth of experience from her previous role as Chief Business & Financial Officer at the Woodland Park Zoo. Her tenure at the zoo prepared her to navigate challenges, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith spearheaded the development of a comprehensive reopening plan, ensuring the safety of both animals and visitors. The opportunity to reimagine an organization like MoPOP aligned with Smith’s passion for the arts and her desire to create extraordinary experiences.

See also  BuzzFeed Bring Me: Unveiling the Best Travel Destinations and Experiences

Inspiration and Aspirations:

Smith draws inspiration from musician and fashion icon Lenny Kravitz, whose boundary-breaking music and style have made a lasting impact on pop culture. Kravitz’s ability to blend rock, soul, and funk resonates with Smith, who sees his influence as empowering and inclusive. As CEO, Smith aims to drive revenue through new memberships and community-based fundraising, making art accessible to everyone, regardless of their background.

Preserving Pop Culture:

Smith challenges the notion that pop culture and classical art are separate entities. She believes that pop culture is a reflection of contemporary life, just as classical art was in its time. Preserving pop culture is crucial to conserving diverse cultural expressions and ensuring historical continuity. It also provides a platform for marginalized communities to share their stories and fosters inclusivity and understanding.

Future Priorities for MoPOP:

As MoPOP enters its third decade, Smith’s primary focus is expanding the museum’s membership base and diversifying its donor portfolio to better reflect the community it serves. By forging partnerships with like-minded corporations, Smith envisions a future where artistic expression and cultural experiences are accessible to all. She actively seeks collaborations with organizations that share her vision of an inclusive and diverse arts and culture landscape.


Under the leadership of CEO Michele Y. Smith, MoPOP is poised to continue its mission of exploring the power of pop culture and its impact on society. With a focus on expanding membership, fostering inclusivity, and forging partnerships, Smith aims to ensure that the transformative power of art and cultural experiences is accessible to everyone. By preserving pop culture as we do with fine art, MoPOP will continue to celebrate and support the rich tapestry of human experiences for generations to come.

See also  The Rise of Outrageous Pop Culture Gingerbread Houses