Tie-dye, protests, hippies and LSD: those might be some of the first things that come to mind when you think of the Summer of Love. Based in the San Francisco area, specifically the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, the Summer of Love occurred during the summer of 1967. A new exhibit at the de Young Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Summer of Love exhibit contains roomfuls of artifacts from the era to engage and inform every age group and is the perfect weekend activity.
The de Young Museum, located in Golden Gate Park, is offering the multi-room exhibit until Aug. 20, and is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. At the low student price of $10, you can experience the exhibit’s multitude of rooms filled with cultural artifacts, interactive exhibits and light shows that give insight into an era characterized by bright colors, free love and free spirits.
More than 300 artifacts make up the exhibit, and visitors can decide the length of their trips in the moment which is a major plus, allowing people to focus on the aspects of the exhibit they like most. Some people sped through, only stopping at the most intriguing artifacts, while others paused to read everything. My favorite object was a jacket from the era covered in pins with different slogans like “Nixon Agnew” and “Welcome our heroes home,” referring to the Vietnam War. Afterward, I scoured the gift shop to find some pins of my own.
Some especially popular artifacts were the embroidered hospital scrubs. When a group of young people had a bad drug experience and were hospitalized, they tried to make the sterile hospital match the colorfulness occurring outside the walls, accurately representing the carefree spirit I love about the era. I enjoyed these specific artifacts because they connected into my background knowledge of the era from history class this year.
The bright, colored posters on many exhibit walls showcase the musical conquests of famous artists such as Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley and Victor Moscoso.The Grateful Dead and peace signs were also common objects seen all around the rooms. The posters were one of the most enjoyable aspects of the exhibit for me because I could envision them on the walls of teenager’s bedroom walls today despite the gaping years between when they were created and now.
Walking through the exhibit, brilliant colors popped out everywhere along with some psychedelic lighting that enhanced the cultural feel of the era which many experience while on LSD. Alongside the lights shows and posters, the catchy music played a key part to creating the atmosphere. Many rooms had music playing from the likes of Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead which added to the whole experience and made me feel even more immersed in the feeling of the time.
My favorite aspect of the exhibit was the distinct clothing displayed from the time period, giving a tangible feel to the era. The knitting, tie-dye, embroidery and repurposed denim set this era apart and give it a unique look. Special clothing innovators include Burray Olson and Jeanne Rose. Many rooms had mannequins placed in the center which provided a realistic look at the era.
The Summer of Love exhibit perfectly captures the infamous time with something for everyone. Pins, posters, artifacts and lighting create an unforgettable exhibit that will bring visitors back in time.