If you’re already in Glenn G. Bartle Library for finals week and looking for an escape from your studies, try traveling back to the 1960s through the library’s new exhibition, “Summer of Love: 50 Years.”
The exhibition, which showcases literature, posters and artwork from the decade, will open on Thursday in both the upper mezzanine on the second floor of Bartle Library and the Special Collections reserve. The majority of the objects on display were made available to the University by a recent acquisition from historian Stephen McKieran, ‘70, who donated thousands of books and ‘60s-era objects to Binghamton University’s collection. In conjunction with the exhibition, the donated materials have spurred the founding of BU’s Center for the Study of the 1960s, an online resource that is intended to benefit scholars focusing on that decade in U.S. history.
“We have all this cool stuff, we wanted to put it up and let people take a look at some of what we have,” said Curtis Kendrick, the BU dean of libraries. “It [the exhibition] goes along with [the Center for the Study to the 1960s], to support that.”
Kendrick, who conceptualized the exhibition, said he felt that the themes of the 1960s hold parallels to the current political climate on both a national level as well as a collegiate one.
“A lot of social movements that we think about today really started then — so if you’re talking about the environmental movement, for example, a lot of that can go back to the publication of ‘Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson,” Kendrick said. “Silent Spring,” an environmental book that advocated for an end to the use of pesticides and other detriments to nature, will be included in the collection, as well as other books that are now considered literary centerpieces of ’60s movements, like “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan.
The collection will include materials from University archives as well, expressing what the culture of the 1960s at BU was like at the time. Images and other memorabilia from University performances, protests and yearbook clippings will be included in the display. Though many of the works on display are not related to the University and are more generally about the time period and its culture, the BU-related pieces serve as a lens through which to see the University’s past.
Kendrick says that the themes of the exhibition go beyond the gates of Binghamton University.
“It’s not just Binghamton — I think all across the country you’re seeing a renewed interest in people expressing their voice,” Kendrick said. “You’re certainly seeing that on college campuses, and Binghamton is just part of that. I think that’s just a positive trend. You did see that also in the ‘60s, people were very aware of what was going in the country with the government, with politics, and I think that’s very important.”
The 1960s exhibition will be the Library’s second collection this semester devoted to the area’s history of activism. An earlier collection initiative founded in January holds artifacts from the Women’s March on Binghamton, which brought over 2,000 people to Downtown Binghamton from the community and the University.
“Summer of Love: 50 Years” will be open from Thursday to Oct. 9,. The opening reception for the collection will be on Thursday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the second-floor mezzanine of Glenn G. Bartle Library.