“You Say You Want a Revolution”

Already seen by 50,000 people!

REVOLUTION is a musical odyssey that explores the ideals and aspirations of the late 1960s as expressed in music, film, fashion and design.

The exhibition looks at the consumer society, Vietnam War protests, the civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, experimentation with LSD, legendary concerts, communal living and environmentalism.

Wearing high-fidelity headphones that synchronize the sounds and images according to their location in the galleries, visitors will embark on an immersive journey to London streets, where fashion never ceases to reinvent itself; to the heart of the May 1968 demonstrations in Paris; to the Summer of Love in San Francisco; to Woodstock; to the L’Osstidcho; and to Montreal’s Expo 67.

About 700 objects and works of art bear witness to the social and cultural climate of the times with, as a soundtrack, musical hits of the era from around the world and Quebec, with excerpts from seminal films and interviews with iconic figures.

Flower Power and rebellion through music kick off the summer at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, with a special focus on the roles of Montreal and Expo 67 in these revolutions.

1966-1970: Revolutions in music

Driven by young people with a deep desire for change and freedom, citizens of the world came together and questioned the established power structures in every sphere of society.

Six distinct revolutions are examined: revolution in youth identity (how we look), revolution in the head (how we think), revolution in the street (how we change society), revolution in consumerism (how we buy), revolution in society (how we live), and in communication (how we know). Each of these revolutions transformed Western society, including Quebec, in its own way and changed the way we live today and the way we look at tomorrow.


The Beatles at Brian Epstein’s House by
Linda McCartney, 1967.
Photograph © MPL Communication. Reproduced with permission from Paul McCartney

This cultural, social, artistic and technological “explosion” that occurred between 1966 and 1970 is reflected in key music from the period that will resonate in the galleries: The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young and The Who, not to mention Quebec artists Robert Charlebois, Leonard Cohen and Louise Forestier. Interviews with iconic figures like Yoko Ono and Twiggy and excerpts from seminal films, as well as clothes, design products, posters, album covers, publications, works of art, photographs and archival documents, will also be featured.

Swinging London

The growth of the baby boom population and rising wages gave young people access to a host of new places, including clothing stores and alternative art galleries.

London was now the capital of fashion, which for the first time was no longer the preserve of the well-to-do, or even women. And in the aftermath of Beatlemania, pop broke away from established entertainment models and was enriched by contact with a budding American music industry.

Counterculture and Clubs


Milton Glaser (né en 1929), The Sound Is WOR-FM 98.7 (detail), 1966, offset lithograph. MMFA, Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

Mind-enhancement through the use of drugs formed the basis for new perceptions, opening the way to creative experimentation in music, art, film and literature. In the spirit of the Beat Generation, drugs, music and exotic religions fuelled the underground movement of the late 1960s.

In Montreal, La Mousse Spacthèque, decorated in 1966 by the artist Jean-Paul Mousseau, reflected this new vibrancy in artwork and design. This Crescent Street disco bar was meant to be a total work of art, blending sound, light and colour to create an immersive experience.

Voices of dissent

In the 1960s, political activists and anti-establishment demonstrators took to the streets. People around the world opposed the war in Vietnam.

The Black Panthers – an African-American party founded in Oakland, California, in 1966 – argued for armed protection as the civil rights struggle evolved into new campaigns about inner city poverty.

In Quebec, following the Quiet Revolution, a series of social and political events reached their peak with the October Crisis of 1970. Demonstrations intensified as francophones more and more openly criticized the anglophones’ control over the economy.

Consumerism and world fairs: Montreal’s Expo 67

The rapid increase in personal wealth and the arrival of the credit card fed the expansion of consumerism.

Television brought real-time news coverage of the Vietnam War and the Moon landings into people’s homes.

Mass design and high-tech products were unveiled to the world at World Fairs such as those of Montreal in 1967 and Osaka in 1970 which drew over 50 million and 64 million visitors respectively.

Gatherings and Festivals

In the late 1960s, outdoor festivals became the archetype of revolutionary gatherings that allowed participants to embody their vision of liberal, permissive social environments.

In 1969, against all expectations, over 450,000 people attended Woodstock. It was the mythical musical event of the decade.

L’Osstidcho – a psychedelic rock mass in sync with the countercultural movement – brought together Yvon Deschamps, Robert Charlebois, Louise Forestier, Mouffe, Jacques Perron, Michel Robidoux and Le Jazz libre du Québec. It was presented in Montreal on May 28, 1968, at the Théâtre de Quat’Sous.

Communes and the American West Coast

The hippie ideals of communalism in the 1960s produced a variety of alternative communities on the American West Coast.

It was also on the West Coast, in 1968, that the first mouse, hypertext and videoconferencing were presented, fruits of the hippie ideal of sharing knowledge.

“A revolution in the head”

For many, the lasting changes begun between 1966 and 1970 have shaped a new attitude and caused “a revolution in the head.” Multiculturalism, feminism, gay liberation, environmentalism and community spirit all draw on the idealism of the 1960s.

For ticket prices and exhibit hours: or 514-285-2000