Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington, London
Well not a night out but a free afternoon in the greatest city in the world so why not nerd out over bits of paper, film stock, soundwaves and cloth that represent a tumultuous era in popular culture and history?
A slightly unwieldy titled exhibition in the same space that the record breaking Bowie one took up with a similar large room dominated by video screens. Based mostly on popular culture of the times and how it reflected Vietnam, civil rights, gay liberation, feminism, religion, war, fashion, business, the Cold War, technology and politics.
It could be said to be fairly lightweight in trying to cover so much but it does really summon up a flavour of the times through artifacts, video and most importantly – sound. As is common these days the visitor is provided a listening device and Sennheiser headphones which relays music, speech and soundtracks to video as you move round the exhibition. This can sometimes be a bit glitchy but it really does add to the experience.
Highlights – well, handwritten Beatles lyrics, those psychedelic gig posters in all their glory, iconic images and costumes, the worlds first computer “mouse” which I basically a block of wood. Physically present items that you’ve only previously glimpsed in documentaries. There is plenty to read and examine, vinyl covers the walls and there are even a few racks of shellac to browse like one of those old fashioned record shops you’ve heard about. I also liked the section on the European counterculture and the draft dodgers in the USA.
The last main room with the huge video screens is centred on Woodstock and the other final great gatherings of the era (although Altamont not mentioned). There were beanbags to slouch on and watch. Then it’s on to the giftshop with a lot of overpriced gear/tat but quite a few books that I made a note of to ask for from Santa.
Oh and I can’t recall Donovan being mentioned once – he’ll be livid!
I went just after lunch and it wasn’t too busy although when I went back to the start to look at something again found it had filled up. Could be a bit of a slog at weekends with a real mix of ages and a couple of mobility scooters befitting the love generation now.
It made me think..
That I’d recommend this to anyone who wants a sense of the times they probably didn’t live in. Some of it is a little corny but there is so much to see and hear that its a treat for the eyes and ears.
The exhibition runs until the 26th February 2017