Skip to content

The Comfort in Being Sad: Memorial, Museum, and Kurt Cobain

Thesis by Karl Rozyn (2015)

Museums, monuments, and archives have long been used to memorialize noteworthy individuals and events as well as being repositories of history and culture. These memorializations have typically served to enhance a specific narrative that is endorsed by the institutions that present them, whether as part of national myth building or to show particular aspects of a historic figure. In the 21st century, increasing focus has been placed in day-to-day life on figures from popular culture. To remain relevant to the community a museum must preserve pop culture figures as well as historic or political figures. This paper utilizes the exhibit Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses at the EMP Museum in Seattle, WA and its treatment of Kurt Cobain as a case study of pop culture memorialization in the museum by examining its presentation and curatorial intents, particularly its methodologies for preventing the lionization of its central figure.


Keywords: memorialization, Kurt Cobain, research, memorial, pop culture, public history


Rozyn, K. (2015). The comfort in being sad: Memorial, museum, and Kurt Cobain. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. (Order No. 1599916). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1730399360). Retrieved from