Travel Back at the POP Emporium of Popular Culture

The gallery and showroom are a shocase of kitschy collectibles.

When you step into POP Emporium of Popular Culture, you’re immersed in a showroom filled with cool curios and kitschy collectibles. For visitors of a certain age (aka boomers), it’s an “oh-wow, I never thought I’d see that again” moment; younger browsers marvel at a wondrous retro world. There is a dizzying array of artifacts: “Howdy Doody” puppets, sleek stereos and TVs, JFK portraits, princess telephones, dinosaur bones, gumball machines, movie and music memorabilia, and so much more. And there are troves of local treasures, including a rocket ship from a ride at Rocky Point Park, schedules from Warwick Musical Theatre and Narragansett beer promos.

POP is the brainchild of Darren Hill, who is also an accomplished musician (with stints in Red Rockers and the Raindogs) and manager (his clients include the Mighty Mighty Bosstones). Hill, who grew up in New Orleans and settled in Rhode Island in 1990, ran his first POP shop in East Greenwich from 2010 to 2013; the new POP opened in June in Providence’s Valley neighborhood. The 10,000-square-foot building (formerly an engraving company) boasts a spacious side room that hosts art exhibits and music performances.

POP deserves museum status as a repository of precious and priceless “conversation pieces,” as Hill calls them. He modestly sums up his obsessive mission: “Somebody’s gotta save this stuff.” 219 West Park St., Providence, 521-0001,