Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Since opening in June 2008, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has formed a bridge between the past and the present. Its annual summer concert series has featured other Woodstock ‘69 performers including Crosby, Stills and Nash. The exhibit is a walking narrative through the timeline of the 1960s. Set under a kaleidoscope of lights, the museum features multimedia presentations, including documentaries and original festival footage. Relaxing in a colorful school bus, visitors can listen to the Who’s “Magic Bus” while watching Woodstock Ventures’ Michael Lang discuss how a small-town rock show became a revolutionary moment in American history.
Another unique museum feature is its legacy booth. Woodstock ’69 attendees can record their memories and listen to the accounts of others. Guests can also peruse artifacts including milk bottles from Max Yasgur’s farm, ticket stubs and 1960s-era clothing. The museum also presents generation-linking events ranging from lectures by Vietnam veterans to autumn harvest festivals.
On the day of the Santana concert, the museum hosted a book signing for Barry Z. Levine, author of The Woodstock Story Book. The book is a 300-piece compilation of Levine’s photographs for Woodstock, the 1970 Academy-Award winning documentary. The former Columbia Records producer recounted “sipping champagne and eating strawberries” backstage with Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick. “When I was approached by Woodstock producers about taking still shots, I said yes,” Levine remembered with a shrug.
After the documentary, many of the original photographs, candid shots of musicians, attendees and the upstate New York landscape, lay untouched for decades. A few years ago, Levine’s wife, Linanne, discovered the pictures in a drawer. Published in time for Woodstock’s fortieth anniversary last year, the book features Linanne’s Dr. Seuss-style prose. The book raised Levine’s visibility in the public eye. Last August, he was the “Celebrated Artist” of Italy’s 2009 Biografilm celebration in Rome, Milan and Bologna. Both Levine and his wife agreed they were bigger hippies now than in 1969.
“Back then, everyone had long hair,” Levine said. “Everyone looked the part.” Being a true hippie, however, is the core of self-acceptance. If love is your religion, you automatically remove yourself from the fray of keeping up with the Joneses.
“Keep the [hippie] spirit,” Linanne said. “It keeps you young.”
On July 29, the museum opened Collecting Woodstock: Recent Museum Acquisitions, a special exhibit running through January 2, 2011. The exhibit includes festival photographs by Doug Lenier and Richard Gordon, artists’ journals and a tribute to The Hog Farm, a New Mexico commune hired by Woodstock promoters to assist in public safety. Other volunteers joined. By the time the event opened, more than 100 “Hog Farmers” were on hand setting up campgrounds and kitchens to provide shelter and food for the half-million crowd.
As Santana notably said, “The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.”
The museum features a café, restroom facilities and a gift shop. Concert prices for the 1,000-seat pavilion and lawn generally range from $36 to $100 before tax. There is no parking admission. Museum tickets are $13 for adults; $11 for seniors; $9 for youths age 8-17 and $4 for children age 3-7. Children under 2 are free with an adult. Please allow a minimum of two hours to enjoy the exhibits. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week through September 6.
To learn more about the Bethel Woods museum, visit www.bethelwoodscenter.org. To learn about artifact submission to the museum, contact Shannon McSweeney at (845) 295-2420 or by email at smcsweeney@BethelWoodsCenter.org. To learn more about Barry Z. Levine, visit www.woodstockwitness.com.
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