NEW YORK, NY.- The New-York Historical Society
presents the first large-scale exhibition of materials from the Grateful Dead Archive. Drawn almost exclusively from the Archive housed at the University of California Santa Cruz, Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New-York Historical Society, chronicles the history of the Grateful Dead, its music, and phenomenal longevity through an array of original art and documents related to the band, its members, performances, and productions. Exhibition highlights from the archive include concert and recording posters, album art, large-scale marionettes and other stage props, banners, and vast stores of decorated fan mail.
Together, these materials provide unique glimpses into the political and social upheavals and artistic awakenings of the 1960s and 1970s, a tumultuous and transformative period that has shaped our current cultural and political landscape. The exhibition examines how the Grateful Dead's origin in northern California in the mid-1960s was informed by the ideology and spirit of both the Beat Generation and the burgeoning Hippie scene, including experimentation with LSD and the Acid Tests. The exhibition also explores the way in which the band's refusal to follow the established rules of the record industry revealed an unexpected business savvy that led to both innovations in a rapidly changing music industry and also a host of consumer-driven marketing enrichments that kept fans in frequent contact with the band. The Grateful Dead's time in New York is viewed in the context of cultural traditions and events unique to New York, but also as yet another stop on a long, strange touring trip that included dates in New York, San Francisco, and everywhere in between.
The Grateful Dead's two core philosophiesan emphasis on live, spontaneous performances and a singular dedication to their fansinspired the band's almost continual touring, another key part of their identity. As the band crisscrossed the country, from coast to coast, they played in and around New York City on a regular basis, from early dates at Greenwich Village coffeehouses, impromptu performances in Central Park and at Columbia University during the 1968 Student Strike; to concerts at mid-sized venues, including the Fillmore East, The Academy of Music and the 46th Street Rock Palace in Brooklyn during the 1970s; and, ultimately, to performances at larger halls and stadiums such as Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden and Giants Stadium.