The museum contains mostly rock memorabilia and technology-intensive multimedia displays, probably a reflection on the tastes of Allen.
The structure itself was designed by Frank Gehry, and resembles many of his firm's other works in its sheet-metal construction and radically sculpted, curvilinear contours. One architectural critic referred to its form as evocative of a "melted electric guitar". The architecture was greeted with a mixture of acclaim and derision by Seattle residents, some of whom call it "The Blob" or "The Hemorrhoid" (the latter designation may derive from the fact that it sits a short distance from the base of the rather phallic Space Needle).
Detractors have also charged that the museum was primarily "a way for the Paul Allen to get a tax break on his rock memorabilia collection" and "a way to sell Microsoft PocketPCs" (museum visitors were given PocketPC devices, running Windows CE, that serve as personal "guides" to the exhibits). Supporters reply that, among other things, such claims do not hold up in light of Allen's other philanthropic acts.