From Swinging London and Woodstock to the Vietnam War and Mary Quant, there’s a lot of ground covered in V&A’s autumn blockbuster show, You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 1970. You may well ask what more there is to say about a period that has been so exhaustively picked apart and documented. But as the name suggests, You Say You Want a Revolution? is less a furrow-browed chronicling of the era, and more an immersive slice of fun.

Emblems of the era range from the iconic – uniforms from Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a NASA spacesuit – to the more esoteric, such as leaflets from CIA campaigns. The obligatory fabulous soundtrack comes courtesy of a smart sound system, through which every visitor gets a musical backdrop compiled from the record collection of the late British DJ John Peel. Photos from the civil rights protests of the era feel as poignant as ever, with Martin Luther King's words powerfully evoking the challenges the US still faces today. By contrast, the psychedelic movie posters transport you right back to those free-loving days, aided by Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit blasting into your headphones.

For those who've seen the Woodstock film and ached to have been there, the Woodstock room powerfully conjures up this counter-cultural extravaganza. In an enormous, circular space, visitors can slouch on plastic grass and beanbags while watching Mike Wadleigh’s documentary of the 1969 festival, complete with Jimi Hendrix's era-defining rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

As the saying famously goes, if you can remember the '60s, you weren't really there. As a record of the cultural character of a decade that so profoundly altered our world, it's difficult to recall another exhibition that so vividly re-enacts another era – whether you were really there or not.

You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 is on at the V&A until 26 Feb 2017. For more information, visit Vam.ac.uk

Text by Jainnie Cho

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