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Sex, Drugs, Activism, and War Take Center Stage in New York Public Library’s New Exhibition Featuring the Counterculture Movement



NYPL joins Carnegie Hall’s ‘60s festival, inspired by Robert A. Caro

January 11, 2018 – History repeats itself at The New York Public Library.

Timothy Leary’s first-hand account of an LSD trip; Tom Wolfe’s notes about Haight-Ashbury for his book The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test; Gloria Steinem’s letter to the New York Times’ Abe Rosenthal; John Updike’s opinion on the Vietnam War: The contemplative and divergent themes of the 1960s can be rediscovered through over 125 artifacts in The New York Public Library’s (NYPL) new exhibition, You Say You Want a Revolution: Remembering the 60s.

Featuring material from three of the Library’s research centers – The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Library for the Performing Arts – the free exhibition is curated by Isaac Gewirtz of NYPL’s Berg Collection of English and American Literature. It opens in the Gottesman Exhibition Hall at the Library’s renowned 42nd Street Library on January 19, 2018 and will remain open to the public through September 1.

The exhibition has been coordinated in connection with Carnegie Hall’s citywide festival, The 60s: The Years that Changed America, created with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Robert A. Caro. For more information about the festival, visit

“Many young people of the 1960s, rejecting the notion of the conventional American Dream, created a movement now commonly called the Counterculture, inspired by their belief in the dawning of a New Age. In this Age of Aquarius, the worship of material success would be replaced by a peaceful, just society for all. The New York Public Library’s newest exhibition examines these young people’s joyful and painful search for meaning, their battle against established cultural and political norms, their excesses and their achievements. Their legacy reminds us that each generation must face its responsibility to end injustice,” said Gewirtz. “We are grateful to Robert Caro for his vision and Carnegie Hall for giving us this opportunity to share significant and historical materials that will enlighten New Yorkers and all visitors to the Library.”

Highlighting the era’s powerful themes of consciousness, sexuality, activism, politics, civil rights, communal life and the Vietnam War – the exhibition includes items from icons of the 1960s, as well as the following:

  • A beat notebook containing drawings and texts from Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and Peter Orlovsky
  • Typescript of On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • Bob Dylan’s typescript of “Changing of the Guard” with handwritten notes
  • Manuscript pages from Abbie Hoffman’s “Soon to be a Motion Picture”
  • Suck: the first European sex magazine
  • Issues of the magazine the Oracle
  • Pamphlet Outlaws of Amerika: Communiques from the Weather Underground
  • A symbolic funeral notice for the Hippie of Haight-Ashbury
  • R. Crumb comics
  • Photographs by Diana Davies of demonstrations for the rights of gay people at New York University
  • Flyer for Pow-wow: a gathering of the tribes for a human be-in
  • Buttons from the United States Social Political Button collection


“The counterculture movement produced a great deal of creative and civil action, the evidence of which was collected thoughtfully and thoroughly by The New York Public Library. This exhibition provides a wonderful opportunity for our patrons to engage with the Library’s remarkable archives and find a shared connection with trailblazers, innovators, and other inspiring people of the time,” said Declan Kiely, Director of Exhibitions at The New York Public Library.

The Library will also present Artifacts of Change, a series of displays featuring memorabilia from maverick artists of the 1960s – Allen Ginsberg, Jimi Hendrix, Elaine Summers, and others – at the Library for the Performing Arts. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has also extended the run of its exhibitions Black Power! and Power in Print, which examines the art of the Black Power poster movement.

In addition to the exhibitions, the Library will host a series of events about the turbulent decade including: The Library After Hours: Counterculture edition, held in the evening on January 19, will feature avant-garde films, curator talks, craft projects, and a dance party DJ'ed by Felix Hernandez of WGBO’s Rhythm Revue;  LIVE from the NYPL will host athlete John Carlos with Dave Zirin on March 13, to revisit the Black Power salute from the 1968 Olympics; Film critic Amy Taubin will present her selection of experimental films from the Library’s Reserve Film & Video collection on March 20; Marcia Gallo, the 2017 – 2018 Martin Duberman Visiting Scholar, will present a lecture on radical feminism and its impact on LGBTQ history on April 25; and on June 16 the Library will host a one-day event featuring music, readings, conversations, and lectures that will search for fingerprints of ’60s counterculture in today's art, literature, and politics.

Visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to share their experience on social media using the hashtag #wantarevolution.

The exhibition will be open 10 AM to 6 PM on Mondays, Thursdays to Saturdays; from 10 AM to 7:30 PM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; and from 1 to 5 PM on Sundays.

Support for The New York Public Library’s Exhibitions Program has been provided by Celeste Bartos, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos Exhibitions Fund, and Jonathan Altman.

Additional support is provided by Alyce W. Toonk, Susan Jaffe Tane, the Lola Szladits Memorial Fund, and the Bertha and Isaac Liberman Foundation, Inc., in memory of Ruth and Seymour Klein.


Press Contact: Amy Geduldig | 212.592.7177 |


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