26 August 2021 to 15 January 2022

Venue: Sir John Madejski Art Gallery Reading Museum

2021 marks fifty years of Reading Festival, the iconic event that put Reading on the map for music lovers across the globe. This anniversary forms the heart of our latest exhibition, 'The 1971 READING FESTIVAL: For the First Time’, which tells the story of that first festival, and of the musicians, sounds and crowds that brought it to life.

Join us in the Sir John Madejski Art Gallery for this not-to-be-missed exhibition. Discover rare and unseen photographs by legendary photographers including Jill Furmanovsky. Learn about the festival’s story through expert narration by Ian Shirley (Record Collector magazine). Explore a remarkable range of objects and ephemera from the first festival. And enjoy brilliant artistic responses by local young people, showing what Reading Festival means to them today.

Museums Partnership Reading is delighted to announce its latest unique exhibition at Reading Museum marking 50 years since the first Reading Festival.

The exhibition is part of Museums Partnership Reading, a collaborative, wide ranging programme of activities from by Reading Museum and The Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading, and supported by the Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation programme. ‘The 1971 Reading Festival: For the first time’ is generously supported by Festival Republic.

'The 1971 READING FESTIVAL: For the First Time' is free to view and runs from Thursday 26 August 2021 to Saturday 15 January 2022 in the Sir John Madejski Art Gallery. Plan your visit today.

Visitor enjoying the 1971 Reading Festival exhibition

Watch our video tour

The story of the first Reading Festival | Reading Museum