While magnetic institutions grow and improve from their involvement with their communities, a significant factor is what is happening outside the walls of the institution. In community, every institution plays a role, and this is no different from museums in their localities.
The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts hosts concerts, films, and festivals throughout the year, providing more than a simple viewing of exhibits and attempting to immerse visitors and guests into the environment of the Woodstock Festival. These events, and the museum itself, bring individuals from across the country and New York to the small towns surrounding the Woodstock property, creating somewhat of a boom in the local economy in addition to creating a reason for individuals to stay within the towns around Bethel Woods.
The Museum at Bethel Woods plays an incredibly important role not only in conveying the events of the Woodstock concert, but also as an exhibitor of the late 20th century’s most poignant events. Displaying events in contemporary history and facilitating discussion on multiple different present-day issues, the museum provides powerful exchanges in the context of the 60s and the environment of the Woodstock message.
Museums, while an important force for cultural interpretation and discussion, can also provide engagement and investment in community affairs. A museum can be a beacon for development and discussion, or a stagnant pond. This can also apply to the presentation of contemporary history within museums – delving into deep discussions with individuals who have lived through, and are now facing the after-effects of whatever they have experienced.