30 Days of Philly Arts: The 1968 Exhibit at the National Constitution Center

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India, 1968: (l-r) Pattie Boyd, John Lennon, Mike Love, the Maharishi, George Harrison, Mia Farrow, Donovan, Paul McCartney, Jane Asher, Jenny Boyd
India, 1968: (l-r) Pattie Boyd, John Lennon, Mike Love, the Maharishi, George Harrison, Mia Farrow, Donovan, Paul McCartney, Jane Asher, Jenny Boyd
Today is the last day to see the National Constitution Center’s interactive 1968 Exhibit”, about one of the most intense, eventful, important and tumultuous years in 20th century history. It was a year when Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix were high on the music charts and on drugs, and when Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders soared “Eight Miles High” into space to become the first humans to travel to the moon and back on Apollo 8. In 1968 television brought the Vietnam War home to America on the nightly news and revealed the war at home as protests against the war increased and activists clashed with police on the streets of Chicago outside the Democratic National Convention. It was the year when the country was shocked by the assassinations of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who followed his brother JFK into death while campaigning to follow him into the White House as President, and when Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis while supporting striking workers. But despite the dark overtones of this year, it also was a year of unprecedented influence of America’s youth on pop culture, and a “groovy” year for distinctive art, music, design, movies, and fashion.

The National Constitution Center has arranged 12 exhibition spaces, one for each month of 1968, to cover the look, feel, sounds, and events of the year. There are three lounges, including the Music Trip Lounge filled with rock memorabilia and an interactive album cover design station. There are artifacts like an actual U.S. Army helicopter flown in the Vietnam War, a replica of the Apollo 8 command module, and historical footage and firsthand accounts of the history of the year. Go here for tickets and more information about the exhibit. Below, watch a couple of video snapshots from 1968.

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