The 1970s Come Alive in New Durham Museum Exhibition
The 1970s were more than leisure suits, platform shoes and disco. It was a decade that
witnessed profound changes in politics, society and the economy. Images of everyday life in 1970s
America evoke disco dancing and inflation, protests and bell bottoms, gas shortages and suburban
sprawl. At a time when the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal wore on the national psyche, a
burgeoning movement to protect the natural environment was gaining force.
Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project takes a look at the ’70s using 90
remarkable color photographs taken for a federal photography project called Project DOCUMERICA
(1971–1977). Created by the Environmental Protection Agency, Project DOCUMERICA was born out of
the decade’s environmental awakening, producing striking photographs of many of that era’s
environmental problems and achievements. DOCUMERICA photographers created a portrait of America
in the early and mid-’70s. Around 70 well-known photographers, including John Corn, Lyntha Scott Eiler,
Danny Lyon, Flip Schulke and John H. White, completed 115 separate assignments between 1972 and
1977. What emerged was a moving and textured portrait of America. The photos capture the decade’s
fashions, trends and lifestyles. From smokestacks to leisure suits, these images are a fascinating time
capsule of ’70s America.
In addition to the photography exhibition, visitors will find a 1970s-themed living room and authentic
artifacts within the three galleries of the museum’s Velde Hall of American History. Sample artifacts
include 8-tracks and vinyl records of the era, bell bottom jeans and other fashion trends, and everyday
household items and décor, as well as an early electric car on loan from the Museum of American Speed
in Lincoln. These items will be drawn from the museum’s own collection as well as personal collections
of area residents and businesses and will help tell the story of the ‘70s. An interactive children’s space
will focus on toys of the 1970s, including vintage Star Wars collectables. Try your hand at Atari, Simon
and a custom 60-foot-long Hot Wheels track.
Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project is an exhibition created by the
National Archives and Records Administration and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution
Traveling Exhibition Service.
The exhibit is supported locally by Mutual of Omaha, Douglas County Visitor Improvement Fund, Claire
M. Hubbard Foundation, Parker Family Foundation, Lincoln Financial Foundation and the On Track
Guild. Media support provided by KETV Channel 7.