Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review : You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 1970 at the Victoria and Albert Museum – 10th September 2016 to 26th February 2017

Exhibition Review : You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 1970 at the Victoria and Albert Museum – 10th September 2016 to 26th February 2017



The Victoria and Albert Museum present a major exhibition entitled You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 1970 which explores how the changes of late 1960s has impacted on the modern-day. The exhibition considers how present day global civil rights, multiculturalism, environmentalism, consumerism, computing, communality and neoliberalist politics were influenced by five revolutionary years 1966 – 1970.

You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 1970 will investigate the upheaval, the explosive sense of freedom, and the legal changes that took place resulting in a fundamental shift in the mindset of the Western world. The exhibition shows more than 350 objects encompassing photography, posters, literature, music, design, film, fashion, artefacts, and performance.


In the entrance to the exhibition, Christine Keeler in her infamous pose on a chair is recreated to show that sex and corruption was very much part of the 60s story.The first section begins with a creation of Carnaby Street and ‘Swinging London’ , the thriving fashion scene was dominated by Biba and Mary Quant in London with model Twiggy considered the face of the ‘new look’.


Art, fashion and music came together in new ways with the new celebrity pop stars, the leaders of many fashion trends. London was ‘cool’ illustrated by the photographs of David Bailey and Terry O’ Neill of well-known figures including Michael Caine, The Rolling Stones and The Krays.


The second section explores the rise of a counterculture that began to experiment with drugs, psychedelia, underground literature and pirate radio. The interest in psychedelic music led to the rise of the graphic designers and artists who were in demand for album covers and advertising material. The influence of the Beatles is considered with a recreation of part of the iconic St Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and handwritten lyrics for a number of Beatle songs.


The third section illustrates the late 60s was not all about peace and love, violent protests took place across the world especially in Paris in 1968 when student riots threatened to get out of hand. Other movements began to gain support including the American Civil Rights movement, Gay Rights, Women’s Liberation and the Anti War movement.


Increased spending power especially amongst young people led to a revolution in consumerism, futuristic fashion and furniture attracted consumers who were now exposed more widely to the power of television. Real time news of Wars and the Space exploration had dramatic effect on public opinion. a moon rock on loan from NASA alongside the space suit worn by William Anders, who took the defining ‘Earthrise’ photograph on the Apollo 8 mission is included in this section.


One of the more dramatic aspects of the late 1960s was the coming together of large numbers of people for festivals and gatherings. One of the most famous was Woodstock in 1969 and the fifth section features a multi media projection of the festival and a number of items worn by the performers including those belonging to Jimi Hendrix, Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane and The Who.


The final section looks at how the alternative communities in the American West Coast began to create groups that advocated environment strategies as part of their lifestyles. Their ‘back to nature’ initiatives would influence many of the latter Green movements. One other kind of alternative community became the pioneers of modern computing, a rare Apple 1 is on display.


Looking at a particular time period and trying to ascertain its influence is a difficult process, however this exhibition brings together a number of objects that in many ways symbolises the period. There was little doubt that the late 60s saw a global cultural revolution which would have considerable consequences for the decades ahead. Anyone interested in the late 60s with be entertained by this highly visual exhibition with plenty of exhibits to provide information about a short period of time when idealism, protest and consumerism came together to create ideas that are still relevant.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended 

For more information or book tickets, visit the V & A website here

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