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The Grateful Dead Archive

Dead Central is a gallery space on the Main Floor of McHenry Library at UC Santa Cruz dedicated to exploring cultural, social, and creative moments in the twentieth century in which the Grateful Dead played a critical part. Exhibits feature unique materials from the Grateful Dead Archive alongside original sources from across the University Library's rich historical collections. The creation of Dead Central was made possible through a generous grant from the Brittingham Family Foundation.

Dead Central admission is free and open to the public during all normal McHenry Library hours.

Opening soon! When We Paint Our Masterpiece: The Art of the Grateful Dead Community

Opening 6 February 2020!

LOCATION: Dead Central, on the main level of McHenry Library

This newest exhibit featuring unique materials from the Grateful Dead Archive will explore how the members of the band and the global Dead Head community took inspiration from one another in creating an image-rich, worldwide art practice that, like the band’s music, scrambled perceived standards and norms. 

The creative works presented in When We Paint Our Masterpiece reveal a world full of variety when it comes to design practices, international traditions, visual icons, and art forms. There has been space for all of these patterns and visions in the community of fans and fellow artists that blossomed around the band, and that community of creators continues to thrive today. This exhibit explores the mutual appreciation among fans, as well as between fans and the band. 


(Art by Miki Saito)

Selected Previous Exhibits

Put Your Gold Money Where Your Love Is, Baby: Counterculture, Capitalism, and the Grateful Dead - Dead Central

11 June 2018 - 23 December 2019

LOCATION: Dead Central, on the main level of McHenry Library

Visit the Digital Exhibit created by co-curator Gabriel Saloman Mindel

This exhibit explores how the band invented, improvised, redefined, and pioneered business practices that revealed new ways of thinking about work, about being in business, and about the relationship between creators and their communities. It draws on the newly processed business records of the band. 

About Put Your Gold Money Where Your Love Is, Baby:

This exhibit was made possible through a generous grant from the Brittingham Family Foundation.

Curated by: Jessica Pigza, Alix Norton, and Gabriel Saloman Mindel

With contributions by: Eric Arvizu, Thomas Bergan, Sean Concannon, and Andy Smith

With special thanks to: The Garcia Family; Eileen Law; Alessia Cecchet, CART Fellow; Marcus Thayer and Ryan Dzialo, Library Operations; Kristy Golubiewski-Davis, Digital Scholarship Commons; Joop Rubens and Linda Hunt, Library Development; all staff and student assistants in Special Collections & Archives; and Elizabeth Cowell, University Librarian

Love on Haight: The Grateful Dead and San Francisco in 1967

6 June 2017 - 1 May 2018

Take a VIRTUAL TOUR of this exhibit.











Love on Haight: the Grateful Dead and San Francisco in 1967, highlighted materials from multiple collections housed in the Library’s Special Collections & Archives. The exhibit featured posters, photography and ephemera from the Grateful Dead Archive and photographs from Ruth-Marion Baruch’s 1967 Haight-Ashbury series. Additionally, the exhibit included a selection from the Library’s exceptionally rich holdings in alternative publications from this time period: a variety of newspapers and magazines, comic books, literary journals and broadsides as well as political tracts. The audiovisual elements in this exhibit included films about the Summer of Love, snippets of performances and of course, music.


Imagining the Dead: Photographs and Photographers in the Grateful Dead Archive, 1965-1995

May 15, 2016 - April 30, 2017

Imagining the Dead presented more than 200 images and artifacts drawn from every era of the Grateful Dead.

Songs of Our Own: The Art of the Grateful Dead Phenomenon

27 April 2013-30 April 2014

Exhibit poster by Gary HoustonThis exhibit explored the art that documented, celebrated, and inspired the Grateful Dead and their fans. 

Visit the guide to this exhibit.