If you’re anything like us, then you may well be the sort of person who keeps meaning to go to an exhibition, and then suddenly remembers only when it’s too late and the exhibition has closed!

So, here’s a klaxon to notify you that our current exhibition, The 1971 READING FESTIVAL: For the First Time - an exploration of the iconic story of the first Reading Festival, the celebration of arts, culture and rock 'n' roll that would go on to place Reading on the map for music lovers the world over—is closing on Saturday 15 January 2022.

This is two weeks earlier than expected, because we have had some very good news about new investment into our gallery lighting systems! We will need time to install the new energy efficient lighting rig before the opening of our next exhibition, a royal celebration of another anniversary that's very dear to our town: the 150th anniversary of Reading Football Club.

To find out the specific details of when different areas of the museum will be closed for this essential maintenance, please check our gallery closures page.

A photograph of Rory Gallagher by Michael Putland.
Rory Gallagher was the headliner of the first festival, and performed an incredible set. Here he is photographed by Michael Putland. (© Michael Putland)

Before our new exhibition kicks off, we would love it if you come and visit this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition all about the fantastic first Reading Festival, which changed the course of Reading’s cultural life and history and continues to do so today. There’s a chance to see a unique set of imagery curated by legendary rock photography Jill Furmanovsky, some iconic musical equipment lent to us by Marshall Amplifiers and Gibson Guitars, and of course a very special exhibit of the Fender Telecaster guitar and Vox AC30 amplifier used by rock legend Rory Gallagher to create his hugely influential rock sound at the first festival. The exhibition is complemented by a soundtrack of music from the artists that performed. This selection was made by Ian Shirley, expert in rare and special vinyl for Record Collector magazine. It really is an insight into the quality of the sounds of the time.

If you'd like to learn more about the exhibition, then join us below in our video, as Reading Museum curator Brendan Carr introduces the story of the first Reading Festival and highlights several of the key objects and figures that bring its sound and history to life.

Discover the exhibition in our video introduction

The story of the first Reading Festival | Reading Museum

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Plan your visit to Reading Museum by heading to our Welcome Back page. Discover how our many galleries tell the story of the history of Reading, its places, and its people.

From the closure of our Reading Festival exhibition to March 2022, work has been scheduled to update the gallery lighting on the museum's second floor. During this time, some areas of the galleries will be inaccessible whilst work is being carried out. We hope you will understand and bear with us whilst this essential work is completed. If you would like to visit a specific gallery and are not sure if it will be available, please drop us a line or send an email via our website before your visit.