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Seattle Sights: Hello Kitty Hits the EMP Museum

Seattle Gets Cute:
Hello Kitty Hits the Experience Music Project Museum

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You’ve seen her on purses, snuggled up to her at night, even used her to erase your homework – now Hello Kitty is in Seattle at Experience Music Project as a full blown exhibit.  Celebrating the 40-year anniversary of this “superstar and global icon,” Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty comes to Seattle after a record-breaking showing in Los Angeles.

This fascinating exhibit is sure to make kids and adults smile with its overarching themes of happiness and unity that spans across cultures and generations.  With the motto, “you can never have too many friends” Hello Kitty has actually served to forge a strong connection between Japanese and American societies.  For many young Americans she was their first introduction to the Asian culture, and for Japanese Americans she served as a bit of their culture that made its way to the U.S.  Curator, Dr. Christine Yano says, “When Hello Kitty arrived in the U.S., it was a commodity mainly in Asian enclaves; Chinatowns, Japantowns, etc. In talking to Japanese Americans who grew up in the 1970’s, they say ‘That figure means so much to us because she was ours.’ It’s something they saw as an identity marker.”

The exhibit features Hello Kitty in all of her many facets- from art installations created expressly for the show, to unique collector’s items.  With over 600 pieces on display, the show is a super fan’s dream, but will also appeal to those new to the brand with its look into the trends of pop culture.  The Sanrio owned brand has grown from a single tiny coin purse that sold for under $1 in 1974, to a net worth of $7 billion with $759 million in sales a year.  Interesting Fact: The original Hello Kitty coin purse is kept in a vault at the Sanrio headquarters in Tokyo and has never been to the United Sates.  A replica is on display at the EMP exhibit, and the original was included in Hello Kitty Con in Tokyo in the Fall of 2014.

Things to see:

  • Themed couture dresses worn by Lady Gaga, Paris Hilton and Katy Perry
  • Nirvana Bassist Krist Novoselie’s Hello Kitty Fender Squier Stratocaster
  • “Kittypatra”- a 2-foot-tall fiberglass statue of Hello Kitty dressed as Cleopatra
  • Hello Kitty Dolls in KISS Army makeup
  • A Hello Kitty Vans Sneaker

Hello!  Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty is included with museum admission, and free for EMP Museum members.  Get more details and buy tickets HERE.


**Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty was created by the Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, in concert with Sanrio Inc., and is curated by Dr. Christine Yano and Jamie Rivadeniera.  The exhibition is toured by Curatorial Assistance.

photo credits:
1) America's Next Top Model - EMP staff; 2) Sweet Kitty by Osamu Watanabe - EMP staff; 3)  backpack wall - EMP staff; 4) skateboard - Brad Harvey of EMP; 5) Lady Gaga - AP/Japanese American National Museum

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