A Sustainable Groove: 50 Years of the Whole Earth Festival

Mar 12 - Aug 1, 2019

Shields Library Lobby - Left Side of Main Staircase

Combining treasures from the University Archives and items on loan from the Whole Earth Festival Archive, this exhibit presents a journey through 50 years of the Whole Earth Festival, one of the longest-running annual traditions on the UC Davis campus.

Archives and Special Collections

Kevin Miller

Head of Archives and Special Collections & University Archivist

Curated by Kevin C. Miller

The Whole Earth Festival began in 1969 when an art class taught by Jose Arguelles held an “Art Happening” on the UC Davis campus. The students used art to teach visitors about activism, wellness, and the environment in an interactive and creative way. Following the United Nations’ declaration of “Earth Day” in 1970, the second “Art Happening” was renamed “Whole Earth.” Embracing the values of acceptance, expression, sustainability, community, and inclusivity, the festival continues today as a student-run, free three-day event attracting tens of thousands of visitors annually on Mother’s Day weekend. Stop by the lobby of Shields Library to celebrate five decades of the Whole Earth Festival through an exhibit of historical posters, photographs, ephemera, and even a “Karma Patrol” T-shirt.


Poster, probably 1983 (David Kupfer Collection, D-247)
Poster, 1994 (David Kupfer Collection, D-247)
Poster, 2002 (Whole Earth Festival Collection, AR-118)
Poster, 2009 (Whole Earth Festival Collection, AR-118)
Students hanging out on bed on the Quad, 1970 (Department of Medical Illustration Photographs of UC Davis, AR-224)
Women shopping during Whole Earth Week, 1970 (Department of Medical Illustration Photographs of UC Davis, AR-224)
Family dancing, 1981 (California Aggie Photographs, AR-200)
Clown playing with children in front of Karma Dome, 1981 (California Aggie Photographs, AR-200)
Maypole dancers, 1983 (California Aggie Photographs, AR-200)
Freestyle skateboarder at the festival, 1986 (California Aggie Photographs, AR-200)
Jerry Brown, campaigning for President, at the festival, 1992 (Neil Michael Axiom Photograph Collection, AR-195)
Student with display on overpopulation, 1970 (Department of Medical Illustration Photographs of UC Davis, AR-224)
Festival map from program, 2003 (David Kupfer Collection, D-247)