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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Woodstock exhibit celebrates “golden” anniversary

By Patricio Robayo - staff writer

“We are golden” is the latest exhibit at the Museum at Bethel Woods and also kicks off the year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival. Using found and donated artifacts, the show tells the story of what happened here in Sullivan County 50 years ago.
BETHEL — “We are golden” is the lyric of a famous Joni Mitchell song, ‘Woodstock.' Despite not performing at the historical concert, some say she captured the essence of the festival in the words of that song alone.
The Museum at Bethel Woods debuted their new exhibition, “We are golden,” using that lyric from Mitchell's song, to commemorate this anniversary year and to capture a taste of world culture that existed during the ‘60s.
The show explores not only what happened on that festival weekend but the world events that led up to it.
Furthermore, the exhibit looks to bring together multiple generations by examining what the youth of 1969 wanted from the world and then looked at what the youth of today want.
The museum achieved this by having two sections of video interviews, some of people who were there during the weekend and looking back.
Others spoke on what was going on today. The videos are interactive where the viewer controls the storyline.
“We are not just looking back, we are looking forward,” said The Museum at Bethel Woods Director and Senior Curator Wade Lawrence. “A Lot of the teens have the same issues that the young people in the 60s had. What we want people to get out of this is part of the continuation process.”
Using found and donated artifacts, the exhibit weaves you through the story of Woodstock and how it ended up on a farm in Bethel.
One wall is dedicated to Yasgur's Farm with artifacts such as milk bottles and signage from this once major dairy farm in Sullivan County.
The stage was the center of the show and is the center of this exhibit.
Having found some of the plywood panels of the original stage and one of the original speakers that once stood 70 feet in the air, the artifacts give you an inside look at how the stage all came together on that day.
Nearby is Michael Lang's motorcycle —one of the co-founders of the ‘69 festival—and leather vest he wore during the festival weekend that has been seen in hundreds of photographs.
According to Lawrence, the museum started seriously thinking about the show about two years ago and then began the process of searching and collecting items.
It took a little more than a month to change over the gallery from the Peter Max exhibit to the current one.
Using movable walls, the museum transforms the room which allows the viewer to be immersed in each section of the exhibit.
Visiting storage rooms and warehouses, bit by bit the team at the museum curated the story of Woodstock.
Some sections showcase artifacts and posters of the festival. Another showcases photographers' work, some who were hired, others that went on that day to document the scenes they saw. The photographs capture moments of life during that historic weekend.
“No matter what age you are, you can come and learn what Woodstock was about and what the world was like in 1969,” said The Museum at Bethel Woods Assistant Curator Julia Fell. “It's not just about what Woodstock was, but also what led up to Woodstock. It's to tell younger people, that their voices can be recognized. There are parallels between then and now and how we can learn from that.”
The exhibition runs through the summer and will be open during the anniversary weekend. Visit for more information.

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