Psychedelic Rock Posters from the Vault

With the exhibition Who Shot Rock & Roll:  A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present, opening tomorrow at the museum, I thought now would be a great time to acquaint our readers with the museum’s vintage collection of psychedelic posters.  I started documenting these posters a few years ago after I noticed a wooden box high up on a shelf in the museum’s Works on Paper storage area.  In this box I found close to three hundred stunning posters.


Norman Orr (American). [Untitled] (Poco – Siegal – Schwall), 1970. Offset lithograph, Sheet: 21 7/8 x 28 in. (55.6 x 71.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 73.39.266. ©Bill Graham Archives, LLC,

I thought it was interesting that these were part of our collection so I did some research.  I found that they had been brought into the museum by the museum’s then print curator, Jo Miller.  At the time they were purchased, in 1972, these posters were relatively unknown outside of San Francisco, although there had been an exhibition of Fillmore posters at the Museum of Modern Art around this same time. Since their purchase, almost forty years ago, these posters have never been shown at the Brooklyn Museum.  You can view a few here and a larger selection on the Museum’s contemporary collections pages.

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Left: Bonnie MacLean (American). [Untitled] (The Who / Loading Zone), 1967. Offset lithograph, Sheet: 22 x 14 1/16 in. (55.9 x 35.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 73.39.70.  ©Bill Graham Archives, LLC, Right: D. Bread (American). [Untitled] (Janis Joplin…), 1969. Offset lithograph, Sheet: 21 x 14 1/8 in. (53.3 x 35.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 73.39.164. ©Bill Graham Archives, LLC,

Between 1966 and 1971 posters were being produced as publicity for dance concerts, or dance parties, at venues such as the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore West in San Francisco. These concerts featured loud, live bands, colorful light shows, often poetry readings or performance art, and were mostly fueled by LSD or acid.  These unique events were part of what became known as the psychedelic experience.

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Left: Lee Conklin (American). [Untitled] (Buffalo Springfield / Richie Havens / Chambers Brothers), 1968. Offset lithograph, Sheet: 21 1/8 x 14 in. (53.7 x 35.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 73.39.121.  ©Bill Graham Archives, LLC, Right: Bonnie MacLean (American). [Untitled] (Blue Cheer / Vanilla Fudge / Sunshine Co.), 1967. Offset lithograph, Sheet: 21 1/4 x 14 3/16 in. (54 x 36 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 73.39.84. ©Bill Graham Archives, LLC,

Organized respectively by Chet Helms and Bill Graham, major promoters on the West Coast art and music scene in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, these concerts helped introduce performers that would go on to become legendary Rock Stars, such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath, to name a few.  Amazingly, on these same concert bills were Rhythm and Blues greats such as Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, and veteran Jazz and Blues musicians including Miles Davis and Albert King!  Please stop by next week for more on these posters and the artists that created them.