V&A acquires the Glastonbury Archive

June 13, 2014

View over site, © Glastonbury Festival

Visiting Worthy Farm, the home of the Glastonbury Festival is an amazing experience at any time of the year but in the weeks before ‘curtain-up’ it is a fascinating insight into the creativity of the world’s longest running music and performing arts festival.

The 44 year old family of Glastonbury come together to create the festival from this magical landscape. Following the vision and passion of Michael and Emily Eavis, the artists, designers and sign-painting teams busy away alongside the set builders and long-drop loo gang preparing for the arrival of the musicians and the performers and on the weekend of the 27-29 June around 175,000 festival goers. It feels like a quintessentially British experience and evokes a feeling of togetherness, collaboration and belonging; everyone is there because they believe in Glastonbury and want to share in the creativity and energy of this moment in time. This is the giant backstage of Worthy farm, a name which couldn’t be more apt for a festival which maintains its focus on good causes and free-thinking.

Hippies and their horse at the first festival, 1970, © Glastonbury Festival

As we walk around the site we begin to see the familiar appear – the skins wrap around the pyramid stage, the helter-skelter tower rises from the Park and the recycled oil-drum bins are painted, each one individually crafted by Hank and his team of artists. The dairy cows have retired to their sheds as the enormous farm stores – Glastonbury’s Aladdin’s caves – are emptied of their jewels. The festival begins to take shape. Constantly evolving and mirroring the world which it meets for 5 days in midsummer.

Festival crowd, © Glastonbury Festival, thanks to Glastonbury At 40. Photographs compiled by the Somerset photographers Brian Walker, Ann Cook, Matt Cardy, Jason Bryant, Ian Sumner, Anna Barclay

The V&A, home of the National Collection of the Performing Arts will be the home of an archive that continues to grow with each festival. Glastonbury presents an extraordinary opportunity for the museum to consider ways to collect and capture a living performance archive. How to preserve and document a festival that has paved the way for a world of festivals? The archive will include posters / ephemera / programme / film / designs / maps which for years to come will help us understand what Glastonbury Festival meant at a given period in time. Beyond the main stages the archive will also document the cutting-edge theatre and circus performances and the messages of the green fields. The site-specific art, the fashions and the audiences will not be missed either.

View of Pyramid Stage, © Glastonbury Festival. Thanks to Glastonbury At 40. Photographs compiled by the Somerset photographers Brian Walker, Ann Cook, Matt Cardy, Jason Bryant, Ian Sumner, Anna Barclay

The V&A will continue to capture the essence of each Glastonbury Festival and bottle it for the future. Aiming to reflect how no two visits to Glastonbury are the same and how each festival goer takes away a collage of impressions as they become part of the creative tapestry of the festival…

Excerpt from scrapbook, © Glastonbury Festival. Thanks to Glastonbury At 40. Photographs compiled by the Somerset photographers Brian Walker, Ann Cook, Matt Cardy, Jason Bryant, Ian Sumner, Anna Barclay

As Michael Eavis says…

‘When I set out on this crazy hippy trip 44 years ago, little did I know how this roller coaster would run. But now I have to pinch myself every morning when I wake up to the excitement of another day – heading up a team of the most creative artists anywhere in the world. The V&A is an inspirational space and feels like the natural ‘home’ for our ever-evolving archive so we can really show everyone, not just festival-goers, what we really do’.

The V&A is delighted to join the rollercoaster…

Selected highlights from the archive will be on display in the V&A’s Theatre and Performance Galleries from March 2015 – January 2016.

5 comments so far, view or add yours


Hi Kate – saw in the guardian your hesitation over the mud conservation issues … a friend pointed this out to me. I am an earth materials conservation person so would be delighted to advise on getting some mud into the Glastonbury archive!

Hi Kate,
What truly wonderful news about the Glastonbury Archive!
I’ve been photographing the festival since 1990 and worked with the official website team as it grew and evolved, so I would love for people to be able to access this unparallelled historic source of creativity once again. I’ve spoken to several of my colleagues from the old webteam and I believe some have already made contact with you, so I hope to be in touch in the near future to discuss this exciting project!

Love Stone ;) x

Great work
Archiving recent cultural history is so important – we are trying to archive Archaos Circus on our website http://www.archaos.info – we (archaos) headlined the pyramid every night in 1990 – if anyone has any footage or images of the show it would be great if you could share and we could add it to the archive site – many thanks Mischa – Bouninax

Can’t think of a bigger compliment for the best festival in the world!

Hi Kate – I a trying to trace a photo taken at the first festival in 1970. I would like permission to use it for my new album cover as I played there in 1970 and I am in the photo as well. It might be part of the collection of Brian Walker. I can email you a low res copy that appeared in Q magazine

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