It may look like a child's Play-Doh experiment gone wrong, but don't be fooled by architect Frank Gehry's rock 'n' roll museum opening today in Seattle.

Inside the Experience Music Project is an interactive shrine to modern American music, including rock, jazz, soul, gospel, country, blues, grunge, hip-hop and whatever else comes into town.

The $240 million museum has sound studios that teach visitors how to play a guitar and experience (via virtual reality) what it's really like to play in front of thousands of adoring fans.

All this because Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen--alternately the second or fourth richest man in the world--wanted to see his childhood dreams come true.

"If you give the young people the keys to the kingdom of rock and roll, just a feeling that they can make their own music, then they'll find their own path through music," he told Newsweek magazine in a recent interview.

Though it was originally conceived by Allen as a shrine to his idol Jimi Hendrix, it now stands at the base of the Seattle Space Needle with more than 80,000 artifacts, including Elvis Presley's black leather jacket, Janis Joplin's floral bell-bottom pants and the Fender Stratocaster Hendrix played at Woodstock, plus more than 100 films and 100 oral histories.

When Allen directed the famed Gehry on style, he told the man known worldwide for his curvaceous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, to make it "swoopy."

"It's a very descriptive term," Gehry told the Associated Press. "I loved it. The way he said it, you couldn't not like it."

Grand opening performances this weekend will cover all music genres, including artists like Alanis Morissette, James Brown, Bo Diddley, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Kingsmen, Eminem, Metallica, Patti Smith and the Eurythmics.