50 years of Reading Festival exhibition opens at Reading Museum

1971 saw the first ever Reading Festival (later the Reading Rock Festival) in the UK. The festival has been instrumental in helping US brands break the UK from Public Enemy to Nirvana. Alongside Glastonbury, it remains a key festival in the UK calendar. The 2021 festival kicks off on Friday this week with a reduced line up with less US acts because of Covid restrictions. Liam Gallagher, Mabel, Stormzy, Biffy Clyro and Declan Mckenna are set to perform.

Brendan Carr, from Reading Museum, told ITV “We’ve been working with a legendary rock photographer called Jill Furmanovsky who has worked with us to find these rare and in some cases unseen images of the very first Reading Festival 50 years on.”

Jill Furmanovsky has shot acts from The Stones to Dylan, The Police and Oasis alongside many recent acts such as Royal Blood and Mura Masa. Ian Shirley of Record Collector magazine has helped curate and add editorial to the exhibition which includes never before seen photography and memorabila.

Melvin Benn, director of Festival Republic, owner of Reading Festival says

“As a young lad, I was passionate about my music. I still am, but I could never have imagined that one day I would be responsible for staging the Reading Festival and its sister Leeds Festival which we’ve been running since 1989. It is lovely to look back on our history and see how we stay true to be a Festival all about presenting the very best music of today, alongside the top breakthrough acts for the future.  This is not something that’s going to change”.

“I look back on these decades at the helm of Reading Festival with a sense of pride and of responsibility. Festival Republic has been at the forefront of the work to help the UK’s multi-billion-pound festival industry to recover from this wretched virus, that has disrupted our plans and caused pain in our lives. I am sure that, with Reading Museum, Jill Furmanovsky and Ian Shirley working together, this will be a wonderful exhibition to put a smile on visitor’s faces and be a brilliant showcase of our shared history”.

‘The 1971 READING FESTIVAL: For the First Time’ is free to view and runs from Thursday 26 August 2021 – Saturday 29 January 2022 in the Sir John Madejski Gallery, Reading Museum www.readingmuseum.org.uk

Images below courtesy of Starscream Communications.