DENVER – The year 1968 was a turning point for a generation coming of age and a nation at war, the aftermath which can still be felt today. The 1968 Exhibit is coming to Denver in February 2015. Hosted by History Colorado, this must-see exhibit brings to life this pivotal American year through photographs, artifacts, vintage pop culture items and interactive experiences.
A National Dialogue “Discussions about the impact and legacy of 1968 are being had at dinner tables, in classrooms and on the streets of America,” says Tom Brokaw, honorary chair of “The 1968 Exhibit,” former anchor and managing editor of the “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” and author of Boom! Talking About the Sixties. He says, “It is time to document this watershed year through the voices of the people who experienced it firsthand, and to hear from the next generation about what it means to them.”
Organized chronologically by the months of the year, the 5,000-square-foot exhibit will transport visitors back to 1968. The experience begins in January with a Huey helicopter that has “landed” in a living room. The sights and sounds of this media-saturated age fill the exhibit and stories from the people who were there are shared throughout. Three interactive “lounges” focus on music, design, movies and television. “It was quite a year for indelible television,” says William Convery, Director of Exhibits and the Colorado State Historian at History Colorado. “We all have our own great memories bundled in with classic TV shows and characters. Objects from ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Mission: Impossible,’ ‘Laugh-In’ and ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’ provide another personal connection to this evocative year and exhibition.”
The exhibit kicks off with a 1968 premiere party on February 5th at the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway in Denver. Tickets for the event cost $100 per person and museum members can attend the event for $90 per person. Tickets can be purchased at http://historycoloradocenter.org/exhibits/the-1968-exhibit/premiere-party/. Guests will have first access to the exhibit, as well as entertainment, groovy music, cuisine and cocktails in a setting reminiscent of 1968. There’s nowhere else in the state where guests can explore this incredible year, reflect on their own fond memories, and see the events that changed Colorado and America forever.
A centerpiece of 1968 is a reassembled Huey helicopter, the mainstay workforce in the Vietnam War. It carried soldiers into battle, returned the wounded, hauled supplies and picked up body bags. Vietnam was said to be the first living room war because we could see it happening on TV sets in American living rooms. The Huey is a symbol of that wrenching conflict and is literally staged in a living room. One of its massive rotors looms overhead like a chandelier. It will be assembled by a team of veterans later in January and then be put on display in the exhibit.
In addition to the three interactive lounges in the actual exhibit featuring music, design, movies and television, families can soak in the ambiance of 1968 while relaxing in the Hippie Haven Lounge areas that will be located at the entrance to the History Colorado Center and in some of the museum’s commons spaces. Visitors can find out what happened in 1968 on their birthday and check how what they wear today compares with what would have been acceptable in 1968. These lounges will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 7, 16, 17; March 21, 27, 28; and April 3 and 4; and May 9.
On Feb. 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. visitors are invited to jump back in time and learn how the 1968 Exhibit was built. Featured activities include the crafts of ’68, learning to macramé and a swingin’ ‘60s fashion show. Blasting off into outer space will feature the Apollo 8 mission and astronauts.
A variety of adult programs are scheduled including a Night at the Museum for Educators, Brain Health Advancements Since 1968, Fashion in the 1960s, and Comingle: Colorado Is Stuck in 1968 for young professionals. Monthly presentations are scheduled which are part of History Colorado’s Colorful Colorado series including:
• Colorado’s “Hippie Problem” in the 1960s, February 9, 1-2 p.m.
• Motel or Motor Inn? Colorado Lodging in 1968, February 23, 1-2 p.m.
• The Yearbook: A Picture-Storied Record of Student Hope and Achievement in a Changing World, March 9, 1-2 p.m.
• Jimi, Janis, the Family Dog and More: 1968 in Music, March 14, 1-2 p.m.
• The American War in Vietnam: Then and Now, March 23, 1-2 p.m.
• Nixon Now: Colorado and the 1968 Election: April 13, 1-2 p.m.
• Journalistic Activism: A Photographic Journey Through El Movimiento*, April 27, 1-2 p.m.
*El Movimiento runs in conjunction with 1968 and is a History Colorado original exhibit that presents a first-hand look at Colorado’s Chicano movement.
History Colorado also will feature Our Shifting Times, a monthly evening lecture series that will happen at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on each date:
• Utopian Rhythms, Interracial Blues: Popular Music, Civil Rights and 1968, February 17
• Segregation in Denver Public Schools: The 1960s and Today, March 17
• Apollo 8: First Voyage to the Moon, April 21
For its popular Tours & Treks program, participants will be able to experience 1968 Denver and a tour by bus called Take a Guided Trip into the Past.
And, History Colorado will continue its popular FWD (Forward) Series that launched in conjunction with the RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit in September of 2014. Presented on Tuesdays from 6:30-8 p.m., this series continuation features:
• Chicago Identity and RACE, February 24
• Social Movements of the 1960s and Early ’70s, March 24
• Colorado Today, April 28
1968 undoubtedly presents a year of outsized impact on America and chronicles it month by month, jolt by jolt, through an amazing year that saw Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, assassinated, police brutality and political protesters, and the lionization of Jimi Hendrix.
All 1968 Exhibit programs happen at the History Colorado Center. Tickets for the exhibit are available online at http://www.HistoryColoradoCenter.org. History Colorado will also have extended evening hours, open until 9 p.m. every third Tuesday: Feb. 17, March 17 and April 21. Learn more here: History Colorado – 1968 Exhibit