“Monticello Welcomes Aquarian Music Festival” placard. Some people in and around Bethel were not happy about the idea of a rock festival in their own backyard, but some businesses welcomed the influx of people, who they initially saw as new customers and eventually saw as well-behaved, polite young people.
Bethel Woods Collection, gift of Barbara and Steve Plotkin
It’s safe to say that Woodstock was a once in a lifetime experience. When the now-iconic festival took over the grounds at Bethel 50 years ago, it brought together a community of creatives who embraced the idea of peace and love for all. Although the festival was just one moment in time, it created a lasting legacy that transcends generations.
Now, in 2019, Bethel prepares to welcome the next generation of creatives. Even before the anniversary festival (and the summer concert series and Mountain Jam) kicks off this summer, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts gives the Valley a taste of Woodstock ’69 with a very special exhibit. When the Museum at Bethel Woods re-opens for the season on March 30, it invites visitors to explore the magic of 1969 through We Are Golden: Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival and Aspirations for a Peaceful Future.
A multifaceted experience, We Are Golden examines the historic festival from every angle, looking at its impact upon the youth of 1969 and its lasting resonance in 2019. Looking to the past, it explores what the Woodstock generation craved from the festival and how their convergence at Bethel impacted society during that time. Moving forward, the exhibit also touches upon contemporary movements like Earth Day, #MeToo, the Women’s March, and the student gun control movement, all of which it traces back to the 1960s.
Bass guitar played at Woodstock by Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane. This customized 1968 Guild Starfire II bass was stolen shortly after Woodstock and was not returned to Casady until late 2016. The bass features ornately decorated peghead designed by bandmate Jorma Kaukaunen’s wife, and Casady teamed up with Grateful Dead sound man Owsley Stanley to customize the pickups and install an internal pre-amp. Refinished to a natural finish during its time away from Casady, the bass is otherwise as it was in 1969.
The Museum at Bethel Woods, lent by Jack Casady
Of course, that’s not the only thing to see at Bethel in 2019. Located in the Museum’s Crossroads Gallery, We Are Stardust spotlights the historic period surrounding the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing, which took place a few weeks before the Woodstock Music and Art fair in July 1969. Inside the exhibit, visitors can delve into the “moon mania” of the period and learn more about the tensions of the Space Race during that time.
Throughout the year, Bethel’s permanent collection showcases a medley of authentic items that channel the spirit and the story of Woodstock during the 1960s.
The Museum at Bethel Woods is located onsite at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel. Since opening in 2008, it has told the story of Woodstock through its gallery spaces, museum programs, small-scale concerts, and intimate community events. See the museum’s website for visiting days and hours by month. For concertgoers, museum admission is 50 percent off with a valid concert ticket.