Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New York Historical Society

The New York Historical Society has launched its new exhibit, The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New York Historical Society. Dead Heads will have the opportunity to view the exhibit from March 5 to July 4, 2010.

The exhibition, which represents the first large-scale exhibition of materials from the Grateful Dead Archive, housed at the University of Santa Cruz, will explore the musical creativity and influence of the Grateful Dead from 1965 to 1995, the phenomenon of the Dead Heads and the enduring impact of the Dead's pioneering approach to the music business. Among the objects in the exhibition will be documents, instruments, audio and video recordings, album art, photographs, platinum records, posters, programs, newsletters, tickets, and t-shirts and other merchandise. Highlights will include the band’s first record contract, tour itineraries, backstage guest lists, decorated fan mail, rare LP test pressings, drawings for the fabled Wall of Sound amplifier array, scripts for the Grateful Dead ticket hotline, notebooks of Dead archivist Dick Latvala,  life-size skeleton props used in the band’s “Touch of Grey” video and large-scale marionettes and other stage props.

“Despite the Grateful Dead’s close association with California, the band and New York have been an important part of each other’s history from the first time the Dead played here in 1967 to the band’s year-on-year performances in New York from the late 1970s through 1995,” Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, said in a written statement. “This exhibition not only celebrates the band’s relationship with New York but its tremendous impact on American culture.”

Co-curated by Debra Schmidt Bach, Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts, and Nina Nazionale, Director of Library Operations at the New-York Historical Society, the exhibition will be organized thematically, beginning with an examination of the Grateful Dead’s early days in the Bay Area and its first performance in New York City. Other major exhibition themes include the band’s musical artistry, the business of the Grateful Dead, and the band’s special relationship with its fans.

Materials in the exhibition will be drawn almost exclusively from the extraordinary holdings of the Grateful Dead Archive, established in 2008, along with a small number of objects on loan from Grateful Dead Productions and private collectors. A series of public programs will complement the exhibition.

"I have no words ... I don't know what to make of it. In any way," Bob Weir told the Huffington Post in regard to the Historical Society honoring the Dead with an exhibition. "You know, I'm kind of tickled; I guess I'm honored." Adding, "People are taking us seriously, you know, and I don't know how to react to that because being taken seriously is something I never expected out of life. I think I can speak for all of us, we always thought of ourselves as being, um, on the edge a bit, and we never really required that we be taken seriously."

For more information, visit www.nyhistory.org.

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