Vince Stango, interim president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, described the year 1968 as “colorful, chaotic and culture shifting.”
Soon, the center will give visitors a closer look at that tumultuous year when it presents The 1968 Exhibit, which runs from June 14 to Sept. 2.
“The exhibit will rock you,” Stango said during a news conference emceed by CBS 3/CW Philly news anchor Erika von Tiehl.
Music was a big part of 1968, and School of Rock Philadelphia performed for the crowd at the March 19 announcement.
“I think this exhibit will be truly amazing,” said singer Natalie Chapkis, just before belting out a rendition of Janis Joplin’s 1968 hit, Piece of My Heart.
The folks at the National Constitution Center, at 525 Arch St., believe that flower children will find the exhibit groovy.
At the same time, they think that people from younger generations, who might have discovered Jimi Hendrix’s music online, will enjoy the experience.
In 1968, NBC began airing the series Laugh-In. Walter Cronkite used a nationally televised news special on CBS to criticize the Vietnam War. President Lyndon Johnson announced he wouldn’t seek another term. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. Richard Nixon defeated Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace for the presidency.
Protests were everywhere. Blacks rioted after King’s killing. War protesters and police clashed outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Draft cards were burned on college campuses. Even women’s-libbers threw bras into a trashcan to protest the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City.
The 5,000-square-foot exhibit will be organized by the months of the year. There are more than 100 artifacts.
The exhibit will feature a reconstructed helicopter used by the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1967-70. Other highlights include an Army battle helmet, a Chicago police riot helmet, King’s funeral program, political pins, a talking doll from the television program Family Affair, a helmet used by Apollo 8 astronaut James Lovell and a sweater and sneakers worn by Mister Rogers on his TV show.
Visitors will be able to watch clips of TV shows and movies and highlights of the Olympics, Super Bowl II and the World Series.
A music lounge will include original album covers, concert tickets, programs, posters, autographs and a quiz.
“The 1968 exhibition does a good job balancing the highs and lows experienced by our nation during the year,” Stango said.
The exhibit will remain at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh through May 12.
During the opening weekend of its arrival in Philadelphia, anyone born in 1968 will receive free admission. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org