- 2022 was a Milestone Year
- Our Commitment to Education
- Kerouac@100 National Tour
- The Benefit to Youth
2022 was a Milestone Year
2022 has been a huge year for fans of Jack Kerouac. People around the world celebrated the 65th Anniversaries of both the publication of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s victory in the “Howl” obscenity trial. There is a reason Ferlinghetti later called it “The Battle for Free Expression”—the Howl trial was a major moment in American history that solidified First Amendment rights in the USA in 1957.
1957 was also the year the Russians launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite to orbit the earth. Sputnik created panic in the US because it proved the concept of weaponizing space with nuclear weapons. Sputnik also led to the use of the word “beatnik” and thus forever painted the Beats as communist sympathizers. It’s unlikely Herb Caen had ill intent when he popularized the term in his April 2, 1958 column in the San Francisco Chronicle, yet the image stuck, and was later magnified in 1961 when J. Edgar Hoover declared that America’s three greatest enemies were “communists, beatniks and eggheads.”
The Beat Generation became a counterculture, going against the grain of so-called traditional American values, and their philosophy that included bettering one’s inner self and living authentically became attitudes the next generation enthusiastically embraced. And it is for this reason we witnessed in 2017 another special milestone—the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.
Our Commitment to Education
The Beat Museum hosts at least one or two school groups a week. Most come from the Bay Area but we often see groups from other states, even other countries. Students also visit by themselves, sometimes encouraged by a teacher or having stumbled upon the Beats on their own, with a nod from their favorite musician or movie star.
All seem interested in learning more about this important literary and cultural movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s that changed the world then, and how it remains relevant today.
The many students who come to visit provide us with a very enviable demographic. Most museums have a tough time attracting young people, and a large percentage of their attendees are made up of Baby Boomers or older individuals.The Beat Museum is just the opposite. A very large percentage of our attendees are high school students, college students and young working people.
The Beats were rebels with a cause, and their spirit of tolerance, inclusivity, and the courage to live authentic lives changed the world.
We believe the best way to carry forward the ideas of the Beat Generation is to inspire young people’s curiosity about the world around them, to discover their own passions, pursue their dreams, and live their own truth.
This attitude is conveyed through a series of exhibits showcasing literature, poetry & art and putting it all in historical context. Our goal is to supplement official learning and spur creativity and forward thinking so young people can make a positive difference for themselves, their communities, and the world.
Taking Our Show On the Road
Our mission is to preserve the history, the artistry and the values of the Beat Generation. The Beats’ values are San Francisco values.
You may wonder why the Beats and their predecessors matter in today’s world. In their lives and work they rebuffed consumerism, censorship, and the increasing power and control of government. Well before it was popular they advocated for the natural environment, promoted tolerance, and celebrated diversity. At the same time they embraced life, spirituality, and offered a candid perspective on the human condition. All of what they stood for has always been relevant, but is even more so, today.
Jack Kerouac’s most popular novel, On the Road, encourages us to live our own lives on our own terms and explore what lies over the horizon. Many people have been influenced by the Beats, from Bob Dylan and the Beatles to Steve Jobs, and references appear throughout popular culture. For example, the hugely successful company Warby Parker takes it’s name from characters in one of Jack Kerouac’s journals.
We invite you to join our community where human dignity and courage have a voice in this country through the arts; providing vision and a palette where creativity can be born and unleashed in many forms for beauty and good.
The Benefit to Youth
We recently met Matthew, a quiet young man of 16 who was clothed all in black and sporting bright teal hair. He is from Minnesota, and inspired by the Beats, came to visit The Beat Museum with his family. When they arrived he was so excited, having read and studied many of the Beat works of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. His parents told us that he convinced them to travel to San Francisco for vacation specifically so he could visit our museum.
Matthew had tears in his eyes as he was leaving. He told us that he felt like he had come home inside our museum. His dream is to become a writer. His parents said that being on this journey with him had helped them better understand him and brought them closer together as a family.
With your participation The Beat Museum can support young people like Matthew, and create an even more engaging and meaningful experience for visitors young and old.
Your gift will enable us to sustain and improve our museum operations, website, and create new exhibits while enhancing and upgrading current exhibits. This will help us make every museum visit special. We simply can’t do it without you. Thank you for your continued support and friendship.