The 50th anniversary of the landmark Monterey International Pop Festival was celebrated the weekend of June 16-18, 2017 with a concert at the county fairgrounds in Monterey, California, where the original event took place. Pentagram designed It Happened in Monterey...Music, Love and Flowers, a temporary onsite museum that explored the legacy of the 1967 festival.
The first major rock music festival, Monterey Pop was the precursor to events like Woodstock and Bonnaroo, as well as the first major philanthropic concert and a protest to the Vietnam War. The event brought together artists including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, the Who, the Byrds, Otis Redding, Buffalo Springfield, and the Mamas and the Papas, among others, and featured career-making performances by Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, who famously burned his guitar on stage. Billed as Monterey International Pop Festival – Celebrates 50 Years, the new concert featured a lineup of contemporary musicians including Norah Jones (whose father Ravi Shankar, played the original festival), Leon Bridges, Father John Misty, Jack Johnson and Regina Spektor.
The designers and curator Ileen Gallagher worked closely with Lou Adler, a co-founder of the original festival and the producer of the anniversary event. The exhibition looked at the idea of the original festival by Adler and John Phillips (of the Mamas and the Papas), among others, and told the story of how Monterey International Pop came together. The show was divided into five sections: Plan, Festival, Film, Charity and Impact, tracing the lasting cultural implications of the festival from 50 years ago all the way to present day.
The exhibition was presented in a existing structure on the fairgrounds, wrapping around the interior of the space. Colorful fabric panels and gels were draped from the walls and backlit for a magical effect. Rare documents and photographs revealed the planning of the festival and an environmental installation showed highlights from the “Monterey Pop” concert film directed by D.A. Pennebaker. The display encompassed posters, record albums and other ephemera and artifacts, including a replica of Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster guitar.