The 1960s were marked by a staggering number of events that changed the world: the presidency and subsequent assassination of JFK, the first manned landing on the Moon, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the hippie movement, the May ’68 student protests, the political struggle and violent death of Martin Luther King, the Prague Spring… In the 1960s pop songs and rock tunes were blaring from transistor radios, men were sporting long hair, women short skirts, and colourful patterns in design tried to reflect the new, casual way of life.

Yet it would be far-fetched to claim that labels like “The Roaring Sixties” or “Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll” give an accurate account of 1960s social life in Luxembourg, where the transition from the 1950s appears to have been seamless. Although the 1960s saw some important changes – with a string of local bands keen to emulate The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, the contraceptive pill making its appearance in pharmacies, and the Family Planning services opening in 1965 to chaperon the country’s sexual coming of age, social and political life in the Grand-Duchy was by and large dominated by conservative values. While students in Paris rebelled against the established order and Germany witnessed the first communes experimenting with new forms of communitarian living, the Luxembourg weekly Revue called on its readers to vote for ‘The Housewife of the Year’.

The main developments in Luxembourg effectively concerned the country’s economy, architecture, and urban planning. The steel industry was booming, soon to be superseded by the financial services sector. The capital built a new theatre and a (red) bridge over the river Alzette. Meanwhile construction work started on the new European Community district in Kirchberg, followed by a clutter of modern buildings, among which a (diminutive) skyscraper, that substantially transformed the cityscape – as did the extension works on the country’s network of roads and motorways that were begun in 1967. But whereas the 1950s had seen Luxembourg households acquire modest prosperity, the 1960s witnessed the emergence of a new phenomenon – consumerism – fuelled by an ever-more performing industry that churned out new products by the day: cars, clothes, electronics, furniture… In retrospective, the decade of the 1960s in Luxembourg therefore appears like a combination of status quo and gold rush, of prosperity and rebellion.

One of the central missions of the History Museum of the City of Luxembourg is to take stock of the city’s social and cultural developments. The exhibition “Sixties” gathers a series of representative objects documenting the daily life and culture of Luxembourg in the 1960s. Displaying a number of exhibits collected and archived by the museum since its inception in 1996, the exhibition is rounded off with selected loans from one of Luxembourg’s largest private collections of 1960s design objects.

The museum is continuously trying to expand and complete its collections. We gratefully acknowledge private donations of interesting objects, which may be included in the running exhibition on suggestion by the museum’s curators.


10 October > 10 October 2011