Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Bethel, New York: The Museum at Bethel Woods
Face it. If you are of a certain age, you want to see the spot where the famous Woodstock rock concert was held in 1969.
Up until a few years ago, you could go to the spot where the concert was held in pretty much its natural state. It was easy to picture the natural amphitheater formed by the rolling farmlands in the Catskills. (Note to those who have forgotten: Woodstock, N.Y., was the original host town for the show, but it was moved to Bethel relatively late in the process.) A plaque was placed by the corner where the stage was.
However, in the past few years, the landscape has changed. The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has gone up on the top of the hill. The highlight is the museum, which is said to mark the Sixties and Woodstock, but it's mostly there for the concert. The picture is of the non-museum part of the facility, used for small concerts, dinners, fund-raisers, etc. Very nice.
The museum has the usual assortment of memorabilia posted, with plenty of audio/visual displays. There's even space for those attending to write down or record some memories of the famous weekend. I think you could argue that the museum romanticise the concert a bit, and I thought it was a little pricey at $13 in 2010 dollars. But it's still worth a visit, especially if you wore out the record or watched the movie ... which you should have done by now.
One footnote: The gift shop has very few items with the name of Woodstock, due to licensing issues. You can buy all sorts of stuff with "Bethel 1969" on it, but it's not the same.
Meanwhile, the grounds have been developed. There is a concert facility that can hold 15,000 people, and some good-sized acts play there in the summer. That must be fun for some of the acts involved.