It was a time of peace and love, flower power, feel-good drugs — and the end of an era. A time when youth ruled the world! If you missed it, you can experience it now as the Whitney Museum of American Art looks back at 1965 with its Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era exhibit, on view until September 16.
Take the toddlers; little kids will be entranced by the lights and images. Teens will be drawn to the photos of their peers. (Just don't dwell on the fact that the flower children on show are closer in age to your own offspring).
Note that there are some photographs and images of drugs, including a piece with two signs, one of ESSO, one of LSD. You may have some explaining to do with both acronyms. There is also a house made of light squares that you can enter, but be warned that it includes several photos of topless women.
The art, including paintings, sculpture (Robert Indiana's famous "LOVE") and album covers transport you to the 1960s. Kids are usually drawn to video screens; make sure you stop at the one that features an old-fashioned metal swing set and a wooden see-saw. You may have to explain the Vietnam War and the lack of safety surfaces in the 60s. There are scenes of kids bouncing dangerously high on the see-saw, then a dozen or more teens standing on it. Definitely one of those 'don't try this at home' teachable moments.
The young (and young at heart) will love the Phantasy Landscape, where you have to take off your shoes to wander through a soft foam environment. You can hear the Jefferson Airplane in the background as you take this disorienting trip, with its vibrant colors and uneven footing. There is also a psychedelic floor mat, but it's just for looking, not trying out.
Much of the exhibit will resonate with adults who drank of the electric Kool Aid. One room, great for little kids, has a liquid crystal light display, with pillows scattered on a carpeted floor. Even if your kids are too young to understand about the summer of love, and even if you are too young to have participated, you can enjoy this look back at the '60s. We may never see its like again.
Where: 945 Madison Avenue, at 75th Street.
When: Wednesday-Thursday, 11am-6pm, Friday, 1-9pm (6-9pm pay-what-you-wish admission), Saturday-Sunday, 11am-6pm
How much: Adults $15, age 62 and over and students with valid ID $10, NYC public high school students with student ID, and children under 12, free
For more info: (800) WHITNEY; www.whitney.org