I recently went to an exhibit at the Oakland Museum that examines the year 1968. There was an introduction area that celebrated political fliers and posters addressing issues of the times. The graphics and messages did a good job setting the tone for the main exhibit. Visitors then entered a large space that was divided up into thematic rows, as well as a few room spaces devoted to specific topics. The chaos of the era was captured in how the displays were loosely organized and in its focus on both violent conflicts and colorful sizzle of 1968 design. The juxtaposition was actually overwhelming at times. The scope of the show was largely about turbulent change, yet we got glimpses sprinkled throughout of groovy pop culture and plastic house-ware items. It was surreal, for example, to stand next to a real Huey helicopter, with terrifying war testimony and footage, as the theme to The Monkees played in the background.
Surreal, but the juxtaposition also provided an accurate context to 1960s entertainment. There were numerous displays that featured artifacts and information about the Vietnam War (including the helicopter), the space race (with a reproduction of the Apollo space capsule), the Black Panthers, Martin Luther King jr, Robert Kennedy, and Feminist demonstrations.
Some highlights that Spy Vibers will want to check out if they visit the museum are the music room (with Yellow Submarine and Janis Joplin), the fashion displays that feature Twiggy and Jane Fonda, a 1968 living room, and a groovy TV room that features video loops (including Spy/crime shows: Man From U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart, Mannix, and Mission Impossible). Want a movie snapshot of 1968? Try this marathon of Vietnam-era stories being filmed and released: The Green Berets, The Monkees Head, Easy Rider, Barbarella, and Yellow Submarine. The 1968 exhibit runs through August 19th. More info at the Museum website. Photos by Jason Whiton.