San Francisco invites visitors to celebrate 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love

As both Baby Boomers and students of history will recall, 1967 was the year of the Summer of Love, and San Francisco was at the epicenter. Now, the City by the Bay is preparing to mark the 50th anniversary of that (in)famous summer with a wide range of events, displays and retrospectives for locals and visitors alike.

Long regarded as a literary bohemia attracting nonconformists like the Beat Generation writers of the ‘50s, it was no surprise that free-thinking San Francisco would be the birthplace of the radical “free love” movement during the ‘60s. Hippies, musicians, artists and social rebels - whether residents or pilgrims – gathered in Baghdad-by-the-Bay and created a counterculture bound by leftist politics, music and art.

There will be a wide variety of Summer of Love-themed happenings, starting in early February and running through October.

Coit Tower, San Francisco, Lillian Coit Memorial Tower
Coit Tower
“Hippie Modernism: Cinema and Counter Culture, 1964-1974” and ”Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia” will run concurrently at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The first will examine films that actively participated in the emerging counterculture movement of the ‘60s and ’70s, while the second will examine the art, architecture and design of the 1960s and early ‘70s counterculture. The exhibits open on Feb. 8 and run through May 21. More details are available here.

“Summer of Love: Art, Fashion and Rock & Roll” opens April 8 at the de Young and will feature more than 400 items, including a wide array of psychedelic art, iconic rock posters, interactive music and light shows. Also included will be out-of-this-world clothing produced by print studios, boutiques and workshops in the years surrounding the Summer of Love. The exhibit runs through the summer, ending on Aug. 20. More details are available here.

“Summer of Love: Jimi Hendrix”, an exhibition of phots of the rock icon taken in 1967, opens at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) on April 26.

When his group called “The Jimi Hendrix Experience” took the stage at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, Hendrix had not yet even released his first album in the U.S. In addition to introducing the audience to Hendrix's rock theatrics, flamboyance and entrancing guitar riffs, the racially integrated Jimi Hendrix Experience embodied the racial and sexual freedom and the goals of the 1960s counterculture. The exhibit, composed of photographs of Hendrix taken in 1967, runs through Aug. 27. More information is available here.

“On the Road to the Summer of Love” will show at the California Historical Society from May 12 to Sept. 10. Guest-curated by Grateful Dead historian Dennis McNally, this exhibition will showcase powerful images of the Summer of Love through the lenses of a wide range of photographers. More information about “On the Road to the Summer of Love” is available here.

“Flower Power”, an original exhibition of pan-Asian artworks, will be at the Asian Art Museum starting June 24 and is something of a counterpoint to the ethos of the day.

San Francisco Skyline from the Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins Hotel
San Francisco Skyline from the Top of the Mark
While the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love conjures images of hippies frolicking in the park and rallying with daisies in their hair, the power of flowers to inspire peace and love goes back much farther in time and far beyond San Francisco’s shores. The exhibition at the Asian Art Museum is deigned to reveal the hidden histories and multi-layered meanings of florals across cultures.

The presentation will feature gloriously gilded folding screens, unusually modern lacquers, rare porcelains, religious sculptures, and contemporary installations of living plants and sensory-igniting multimedia. More than mere d├ęcor, visitors will see how botanical imagery has, for centuries, conveyed ideals from the refined to the revolutionary. “Flower Power” runs through Oct. 1, and more information is available here.

In addition to those listed above, more are being planned. For an updated list of activities and trip ideas, visit

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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