The Winamp Skin Museum Is X-Tremely Gnarly

Gif: Internet Archive (Fair Use)

At this moment, thousands of people around the world are booting up the just-released remaster of the classic Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game and hearing those plinking Primus riffs on the soundtrack for the first time in a couple of decades. If you’re one of the people who are about to spend the weekend going further down the rabbit hole of ‘90s tunes that make you forget the last two decades ever happened, we’ve got just the ingredient to help you fully immerse yourself.

Advertisement

On Thursday, Facebook developer Jordan Eldredge announced the launch of the Winamp Skin Museum, an easy-to-browse collection of over 65,000 examples of the iconic digital wrappers that adorned the Winamp music player at the turn of the century. The project was done in collaboration with Jason Scott and the Internet Archive, Eldredge said.

Stunning.
Stunning.
Screenshot: Winamp Skin Museum
Advertisement

Like the music visualizer, the custom skin on your music player was once a ubiquitous feature of music players, and then, suddenly... it wasn’t. The chaotic aesthetic of ‘90s tech just trying to keep its shit together doesn’t really fit our more polished times. But the Skin Museum project is a labor of love, and Eldredge made sure to pay tribute to the “many artists who, with these skins, forged an iconic moment in internet art history.”

Gorgeous.
Gorgeous.
Screenshot: Winamp Skin Museum

The Skin Museum is an important repository of cultural artifacts for you to peruse at your pleasure, but it’s also functional. Not only can you search and scan the archive, but you can also download the skins and install them on (unsupported) Winamp yourself. Check out my desktop setup:

Bodacious.
Bodacious.
Screenshot: Gizmodo
Advertisement

This weekend, I recommend that you order a pizza, put on some X-Files in the background, wrap your Winamp in a skin that expresses your core personality, and try to pretend that you’re living in the You’re Finally Awake / You Hit Your Head Really Hard meme.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

ImALeafOnTheWind
ImALeafOnTheWind

I’m gonna feel like Grandpa Simpson now. So when I first had experience with MP3s it was with my coworkers who worked at a Mom and Pop PC sales and repair shop. We figured out how to rip our CD collections to MP3 and were doing some brisk trading of everything we could. Then found alt.binaries.music.mp3, etc. and that started the downloading rush off of usenet.
It was kind of a golden age as the mainstream hadn’t caught wind of it yet so all of this went on for a few years unchecked. There was not an iPod in the beginning - we had flash memory and CD MP3 players that could play the files off of burned CDs. The gamechanger being a single burned disc had multiple albums and hundreds of songs. I bought one of the first in-dash CD MP3 players, but my buddy went one step further and used the aux-in on his stereo to input audio from a Toshiba Libretto (a palmtop PC at the time).

On our PCs we used WinAmp, MediaMonkey, Sonique, etc. I spent almost as much time browsing and downloading skins for Winamp as I did actually listening to it, lol.

ALSO, how can you bring up Winamp without talking about the visualizations like Geiss, Milkdrop, etc.! That was actually another reason why Winamp remained so popular.

We then saw the collapse as the rest of the world discovered MP3s and we knew the writing was on the wall. The big music companies started getting angry and going after everyone. MP3 gained the stigma of only being related to piracy - as millions of teenagers engaged in the free for all that was Napster.

I even went through a phase of converting all my audio to ogg only to forget about that once subscription music started showing up.