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Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Bethel Woods
View of the pavilion from the lawn prior to a concert
Address 200 Hurd Road
Location Bethel, New York 12720
Type Outdoor amphitheatre
Seating type reserved, lawn
Capacity 15,000
Opened July 1, 2006

The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is a not-for-profit performing arts center and museum located at the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival in Bethel, New York, which took place on a parcel of the original Max Yasgur's Dairy Farm.

Located approximately 90 miles (140 km) from New York City, the 15,000-capacity outdoor performing arts venue, intimate 400-seat Event Gallery, and Museum at Bethel Woods are located on a 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) campus. Bethel Woods offers a diverse selection of performances, educational and community programs, including the annual Harvest Festival, which covers topics such as history and the arts, community collaboration and outreach.


  • History 1
  • Venues 2
  • The Museum at Bethel Woods 3
    • Funding controversy 3.1
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


In 1996, Alan Gerry, a Liberty, New York cable television pioneer (Cablevision Industries Corporation) and philanthropist[1] purchased the original festival field and 1,700 acres (6.9 km2) surrounding it, with eventual plans for an arts center. The $100 million project was launched by the Gerry Foundation in 2004. The Museum is designed to preserve the historic site on which the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair took place.

The lawn area prior to a show


Bethel Woods features a 7,500-square-foot (700 m2) stage, a 4,500 covered seat pavilion and a natural sloping lawn accommodating up to 10,500 people. An outdoor terrace stage has space for up to 1,000, and the Woodstock Site Festival Field can accommodate events up to 30,000 capacities. Other venues at the center include The Event Gallery (small performance/lecture space), Museum Theatre (132 seat capacity), The Market Sheds (event space) and two classrooms.

The inaugural season of 2006 included 9 show days, while in 2010 the center presented 18 main stage performances including Sting with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, Dave Matthews Band, Santana, and Brooks & Dunn, plus nine Event Gallery performances held in the spring and fall.

The Museum at Bethel Woods

The award-winning Museum opened in June 2008 dedicated to the exploration the unique experience of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair, its significance as a culminating event of a decade of radical cultural transformation, and the legacies of the Sixties and Woodstock today.

The interactive exhibits consist of audio/visual experiences, informative displays, and a collection of artifacts, and the permanent exhibits include: The Sixties, The Woodstock Festival, Three Days of Peace and Music, Impact of Woodstock & The Sixties. The Museum, and Bethel Woods Museum Development Group CEO Michael Egan, were the recipients of a Thea Award for excellence in themed entertainment in 2010.[2]

In addition to information about the music festival, which is about two-thirds of the museum's scope,[3] the museum offers exhibits, personal stories and a multi-media experience about various aspects of the 1960s, including music, fashion and political protest.[4] It focuses on issues such as the baby boom, Cold War, Civil Rights Movement, and the assassinations and riots that occurred during the decade, all of which contribute to the context of Woodstock.[5] The 7,000-square-foot (650 m2) museum includes a 132-seat high-definition theater and a 4,300-square-foot (400 m2) gallery, as well as classrooms, a cafe, a museum shop, and a patio.

A special exhibit gallery opened in 2009 and has presented special exhibitions including: Old School, Rock Heroes, Give Peace A Chance, Robert Altman's Sixties, Eddie Adams: Vietnam and Collecting Woodstock to date. Bethel Woods Center for the Arts also hosted The Wall That Heals, The Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Museum in 2010.

Bethel Woods operates the museum and offers programs nine months a year. It was hoped that the opening the center will help revive tourism, which has suffered in the region following the closure of many resorts following the decline of the Borscht Belt.[5] While Sullivan County has struggled, at times, with the legacy of Woodstock, officials hope the museum will help manage that.[5] Bethel is already benefiting from the opening of the performing arts center in 2006, and has led to increased development in the town, along the Route 17B corridor, and in nearby Kauneonga Lake (formerly North White Lake),[6] and is seen as one of the county's larger economic development programs, despite the initial controversy surrounding some of its funding.[7]

Funding controversy

$1 million in federal funding earmarked for The Museum by the U.S. Senate in June 2007 was criticized after it was revealed the museum founder, Alan Gerry, then donated almost $30,000 to New York Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, who had helped to secure the funding.[8] Clinton did not speak during the debate on the project, but Schumer strongly defended the Bethel project as a boom for an economically struggling county.

The funding was rescinded in October 2007 following criticism from Republicans led by John McCain,[7] although it did not affect the museum's scheduled opening[9] nor the more than $15 million in state funding.[10]

See also


  1. ^ "Profile: Alan Gerry", Bethel Woods Center for the Arts website.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Dan Hust (February 19, 2008). "Museum Will 'Relive' the Woodstock Era". Sullivan County Democrat. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Bethel Woods Museum". The Buffalo News. May 4, 2008. Archived from the original on May 21, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c Joel Achenbach (October 27, 2007). "A Museum on Woodstock, With a Haircut". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 
  6. ^ Victor Whitman (February 21, 2008). "Museum will Let Visitors Know 'Woodstock' was Really Bethel". Times Herald-Record. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b Sarah Wheaton (May 3, 2008). "A New Moment for Aquarius". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 
  8. ^ Steve Israel (October 18, 2007). "Museum at Bethel Woods: A Political Attraction?". Times Herald-Record. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 
  9. ^ Fritz Mayer (October 25, 2007). "Senate Blocks $1 Million for Bethel Woods Museum". The River Reporter. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 
  10. ^ "Woodstock Museum Will Stay Open". BBC News. October 29, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 

External links

  • Bethel Woods Homepage
  • The Museum at Bethel Woods
  • Sullivan County Visitor's Association homepage
  • Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce homepage

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