The Friday Five: Brooks Peck

Marvel characters such as Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk, Jessica Jones, and Thor have enamored audiences for decades. The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in Seattle is bringing a new experience to fans through its Marvel: Universe of Superheroes exhibit. MoPOP curator, Brooks Peck, tells us what fans can expect to see and hear at this first-of-its-kind installation.

Tell me about MoPOP.

MoPOP was founded in 2000 as the Experience Music Project (EMP); a museum dedicated to pop music. We re-branded in November 2016 to reflect our evolution to incorporate a broader definition of pop culture that includes fashion, movies, games, television, and more. The Museum is a celebration of pop culture innovators and game changers. A big part of our mission is to help people see that there is no gap between audience and creators. The people who change our landscape – whether that be Nirvana or Gene Roddenberry – all started from a place of “not knowing”. They are just like us; we are just like them. It’s a progressive message.

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What is the catalyst for Marvel: Universe of Superheroes?

Marvel has a long history. They are part of the fabric of pop culture in America now but were a bit underground during their early days because comics were seen as kids’ stuff. The reality is that Marvel writers and illustrators were telling interesting stories from the beginning – stories about gender, race, politics, and equality. It’s an art form. There’s a broader appreciation for those messages and the artwork today.

Marvel has become one of the biggest expressions of pop culture thanks to a catalog of successful comics, television shows, and movies. The exhibit demonstrates how we got here as a society and how Marvel morphed from “kids’ stuff” to being appreciated as a legitimate art form. The exhibit is 10,000 square feet. We actually had to close three of our galleries to accommodate everything. We have pieces directly from Marvel as well as the Library of Congress. The Library is lending a page of original artwork from Spider-Man’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 from 1962. Original notes and edits are visible on the piece. This is the only surviving original artwork from any major Marvel character. It’s a national treasure, as far as I’m concerned.

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The exhibit comes complete with its own soundscape composed by Lorne Balfe and Hans Zimmer. What does that add to the experience?

We’re really excited to include this component. The soundscape is created by Balfe and Zimmer specifically for the exhibit and was recorded in part with a live orchestra versus being a studio-only production. 

The soundscape will serve the exhibit much like soundtracks serve movies: it sets an emotional tone, guides the mood, and helps articulate a sense of motion.

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What do you want people to take away from a visit to the Marvel exhibit?

I hope visitors will gain an appreciation for the depth of Marvel’s contribution to pop culture. The exhibit comprises over 300 objects and each piece adds to the story in its own way. It’s a landscape of heroes with significant backstories that reveals the human sides of the characters. It tells of how we are all flawed and can all be heroic in our own lives.

The exhibit is interactive. I want people to indulge their curiosities and enjoy themselves.

The Friday FiveWhat’s up next for MoPOP?

We do have something pretty exciting to announce shortly but I can’t share that just yet! 

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Marvel: Universe of Superheroes opens April 21, 2018. Visit the MoPOP website for more information.

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