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Arts

‘Woodstock at 50’

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame marks the golden anniversary of “three days of peace and music” with an exhibition celebrating the most famous concert of all time. 

Karen Herman, vice president and chief curator at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, is too young to remember the iconic music festival held on a dairy farm in upstate New York 50 years ago this month. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t appreciate the impact the Woodstock Music and Art Fair had on the 400,000 people who attended and the imprint it left on generations that followed.

“It took place during a moment in time when everything was changing,” Herman says. “The Vietnam War was going on and everybody was on edge. Young people were making their voices heard, and they were looking for their tribes — people who felt like them, people who wanted to change the world. Woodstock was the beacon where everyone came together.”

Through Sept. 15, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is presenting “Woodstock at 50,” an exhibition featuring original Woodstock signage, video footage and clothing worn by musicians who performed there. Keep an eye out for the dyed jean jacket worn by Lovin’ Spoonful guitarist John Sebastian as well as David Crosby’s mud-stained boots. The guitar strap Jimi Hendrix used while performing his riveting rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” is displayed, along with the handwritten lyrics to “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).”

Herman’s favorite artifacts include a T-shirt sporting the concert’s logo of a dove perched on a guitar head and admission tickets to the concert, which cost $8 for one day and $18 for all three.

“Not many people realize that no merchandise of any kind was produced for the festival,” Herman says. “The only authentic shirts in existence are ones the staff wore.”

Accompanying the exhibit are rare prints and contact sheets from award-winning Woodstock photographer Jim Marshall, which capture the free-spirited ambiance the three-day event exuded.

“Everyone who attended wanted to be there, to hear the same music, to be in the same space,” Herman says. “Woodstock exemplifies music’s ability to connect people who share the power of music and the power of love.”

For more information, visit rockhall.com.

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