This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival, and The Museum at Bethel Woods is celebrating this historical moment of empowered activism. Woodstock, billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music,” saw 400,000 people celebrating music, love, and peace over three days in the Catskill Mountains. The festival is number 19 in Rolling Stone’s 50 Moments that Changed the History of Rock and Roll, and it’s considered a turning point in creating a counterculture of youth united against mainstream expectations.
A Historic Moment
This year, to commemorate the golden anniversary, The Museum at Bethel Woods will be hosting A Season of Song & Celebration. Its 2019 special exhibit, We Are Golden – Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival and Aspirations for a Peaceful Future, attempts to showcase the festival in the context of the societal changes it created and to inspire today’s youth toward their own contributions to the world. Along with actual artifacts from the festival, the exhibit includes oral histories of original Woodstock attendees alongside those of today’s youth. Also on display is 3 Days of Peace & Music: The Musicians of the Woodstock Festival. It’s a semi-permanent feature with vignettes from each of the 32 groups that performed at Woodstock. The exhibit tells the story of each group pre- and post-festival and how each impacted music and popular culture.
Beyond the Music
Historical context goes beyond the music with We Are Stardust, which focuses on the Apollo 11 moon landing through the lens of American culture. It includes objects related to “moon mania,” the Cold War/Space Race, and the national success of achieving the first man on the moon at the end of a riotous decade. An exhibit entitled Election ’68: The Whole World is Watching considers the tumultuous 1968 presidential election from several angles and in the context of crucial events like the Vietnam War and the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
The 2019 Special Exhibit We Are Golden: Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival and Aspirations for a Peaceful Future will be on display through the end of 2019 at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, NY. It’s the perfect distance for a day trip from the heart of Rochester.