Signboard, Pass the Acid Test


In the mid-1960s, novelist and counterculture guru Ken Kesey used this 38" x 68" plywood sign as an announcement board and invitation card to promote the activities of his "Merry Pranksters" (an itinerant band of free thinkers) during their memorable cross-country rides on an old bus named "Further." Kesey and his band drove Further from northern California to Washington, D.C., and New York, ostensibly to attend Kesey book parties. In the process they used the bus rides to encourage people to discuss anything with them, to try anything, to perform civic pranks of various sorts, and to otherwise call attention to alternative ways of thinking about the issues of the day.

Like the bus, the sign is a colorful smorgasbord of offerings from the Pranksters and visitors to the bus. Splashes of day–glo paint are overlaid with newspaper clippings, political cartoons, doodles, yarn, and the names of influential West Coast figures from the counterculture movements of the 1950s and 1960s. During a 1992 visit to the Kesey farm in rural Oregon to examine the remains of Further, the Smithsonian found this signboard in the loft of a chicken coop, covered with dust and feathers. A family of foxes occupied the rear seat of Further, moldering in a field, so Kesey decided to donate this sign instead of the bus.

Date Made: 1960s

User: Kesey, Ken

See more items in: Culture and the Arts: Entertainment, Cultures & Communities, Advertising

Exhibition: Entertainment Nation

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Credit Line: Gift of Ken Kesey

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1992.0413.01Accession Number: 1992.0413Catalog Number: 1992.0413.01

Object Name: signcollage

Physical Description: plywood (overall material)paper (overall material)paint (overall material)adhesive (overall material)Measurements: overall: 68 in x 38 in x 2 in; 172.72 cm x 96.52 cm x 5.08 cm


Record Id: nmah_1275835

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