The recent death of Ronnie Gilbert of The Weavers put me in mind to see the newly-opened Folk City exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York . This comprehensive multi-media exhibit traces the roots of the folk revival – it was great to hear Leadbelly singing “Good Night Irene” again – and goes on to document how New York City became the center of this revival, especially in the 1960‘s. Some of the other highlights for me were seeing Leadbelly’s 12-string guitar, Odetta’s guitar and Pete Seeger’s banjo, as well as the videos and blow-ups of the newspaper headlines that brought back so vividly the mix of politics and music that defined the era. The New York Times gave it a great review today.
Even though its not really a companion piece, the Activist New York exhibit has much of the same feel, showing how New Yorkers fought, and continue to fight for social issues, whether women’s suffrage, civil rights, historic preservation, better wages, etc. (it has a great set of posters).
Getting even more specific about activism in the Big Apple is Saving Place an exhibit – with fabulous building models, photos and videos – about landmarking and historic preservation in New York over the past 50 years.