1968: The Year That Rocked America
The year 1968 was a watershed year in American history — a turning point for the nation and its people. A year of vivid colors, startling sounds, and searing images. A turbulent, relentless cascade of events that changed America forever. From assassinations and conflicts, pop culture and free love, civil rights and women’s rights, Americans questioned traditional values and authority that sent shockwaves across the country, including in Western Pennsylvania.
A Year to Remember
1968: The Year That Rocked America, presented by UPMC Health Plan, chronicled the pivotal year in U.S. history that saw assertions of Black Power at the Olympic Games, the national launch of Pittsburgh-produced “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” stardom for Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, the debut of locally made cult classic “Night of the Living Dead,” and the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The year began with the Tet Offensive, the deadliest period of an increasingly divisive Vietnam War, and ended with hope for the future, as the Apollo 8 capsule beamed back images of “Earthrise” from the far side of the moon for the first time.
Watch a behind-scenes video with Andy Masich
1968: The Year That Rocked America featured nearly a dozen interactive video presentations and more than 100 evocative artifacts that explore how the year 1968 helped shape our modern world. Visitors could explore the sights and sounds of ’68, including:
- Original set and several puppets from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” on public display for the first time outside of the WQED studios
- 20-foot Bell UH-1H “Huey” helicopter used in the Vietnam War — the largest item ever displayed inside a History Center exhibition
- Video footage from Dr. Martin Luther King’s final public speech and items from King’s funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church, including the communion plate, microphone, and program
- Apollo 8 mission artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, including the astronaut helmet, checklist, and watch, along with a full-size replica of the lunar module
- Torch from the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and a game-used football from Super Bowl II
- Items from counterculture icons, including Janis Joplin’s bellbottom pants and feather boa
- Interactive stations where visitors voted in the 1968 presidential election, tested their knowledge of ’60s music trivia, or designed their own psychedelic album cover