V&A and Glastonbury to create festival archive in "fascinating witness" to a phenomenon

By Culture24 Reporter | 13 June 2014

Glastonbury Festival will have its own archive at the V&A from the start of 2015

A photo of a woman covered in mud dancing at an outdoor music festival
© Glastonbury Festival. Thanks to Glastonbury At 40. Photographs compiled by the Somerset photographers Brian Walker, Ann Cook, Matt Cardy, Jason Bryant, Ian Sumner, Anna Barclay
From uncertain roots, Glastonbury has become an institution with an enviable archive of moments in British history surrounding it.

A photo of two men and a woman standing in front of a colourfully painted oil drum
(Left to right) Michael Eavis, Emily Eavis and Martin Roth with a hand-painted Glastonbury Festival bin© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
There are 15,000 hand-painted, recycled oil drum bins made for each edition of Worthy Farm’s (almost) annual spectacular, not to mention mechanical sculptures first conceived during the 1980s, a Pyramid stage which, far from its current musical reverence, was briefly used as a cattle shed in 1981, and an array of pamphlets and imagery nodding to the political energy underpinning parts of the festival.

A collection of all this material, then, seems all the more grand given the expertise of the V&A.

“When I set out on this crazy hippy trip 44 years ago, little did I know how this rollercoaster would run,” admits Michael Eavis, the Founder of the festival, sounding typically baffled at his part in proceedings – Eavis is as recognisable as many of the bands these days.

“But now I have to pinch myself every morning when I wake up to the excitement of another day heading up a team of the most creative artists anywhere in the world.

“The V&A is an inspirational space and feels like the natural ‘home’ for our ever-evolving archive so we can really show everyone, not just festival-goers, what we really do.”

The V&A’s most recent musically-entwined endeavour, last year’s David Bowie Is... show, proved almost as popular as the hot ticket that is Somerset’s best-known festival.

Around 175,000 people are expected to become temporary Worthy residents this year, adding more material to the interviews, films, photographs, tickets, t-shirts and personal accounts among a collection described as eclectic.

“We are honoured to acquire the Glastonbury archive,” says Martin Roth, the museum’s Director, calling the festival “extraordinary” and “unparalleled”.

“The archive is interesting not only for its diversity but also for its fascinating witness to creative, social and political change in the UK.”

Glastonbury organisers will work with curators to add more to the collection at the end of each future festival.

  • Selected highlights from the archive will be on display in the V&A’s Theatre and Performance Galleries from March 2015 – January 2016.

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