Woodstock at Forty

Woodstock Poster

The Newseum, a museum designed with the guidance of RAA, is currently holding an exhibition entirely dedicated to the relationship of music and media. “Woodstock at 40” traces the rise of photojournalism through a music festival in upstate New York. This exhibition, unlike the rest of the Newseum is almost entirely void of technological interactions. The exhibits rely solely on interviews from now famous journalist who attended the festival, a collaboration of photographs documenting the weekend, and music memorabilia such as tickets and album covers. “Woodstock at 40” is set up more like a living documentary than its high-tech counterparts which make up the rest of Newseum. The video interviews with Woodstock attendees seem to be the most technologically advanced aspect of the exhibition. Because of the overall simplicity of the gallery design, I assume that the budget was not particularly large for this display.

It would be interesting to see how Woodstock, one of the most controversial events of its time, could be shown through technological interactions such as a computer generated map of the festival grounds, a way to place the museum visitor at the site, and other means to experience  interesting aspects of the Festival such as musicians, instruments, and drug use.


2 responses to “Woodstock at Forty

  1. The Museum at Bethel Woods, located on the original Woodstock site, does, exactly what you mention. At Bethel woods, its seems as though one of the main goals in the design of that museum is to re-create the lifestyle and feel of the Woodstock period. I think the most effective tool in this is the theater section of the museum which has everyone laying down on bean bags and looking up at a huge screen.

    Here is a link to the museum’s website.
    I forgot to mention that my parents, proclaimed children of Woodstock, loved the museum and its ability, through multimedia and real objects, recreate that time. Coming from another generation, it was pretty incredible to see them seeing the museum and remembering.

  2. I am interested in your use of the term “living documentary” although I have to admit that I do not see anything suggests this in the Woodstock installation at Newseum. Woodstock as an event vastly exceeded the aspirations of its organizers and took on a life of its own. This exhibit seems rather modest in its approach but “living documentary” made me think there might be modest approaches more in keeping with an event described by organically growing, user-generated, documentary content. The one that comes immediately to mind is the photo exhibition that sprang up a day or two after 911 in Soho called Here is New York. Anyone could bring in an image that they made and it would be printed and hung on a series of strings spanning the space to create an incredible archive or personal images documenting that infamous day. This is New York has since traveled around the world.

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