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Why: In 2008, this quintessential California hippie band put its history in the hands of UC Santa Cruz's McHenry Library, and the public is invited to look and listen.
What: The Grateful Dead Archive, also known as Dead Central, begins with an exhibition room, which in January featured scores of photos from the band's early days in the mid-'60s and a set of life-sized marionettes that starred in the band's first music video, "Touch of Grey" (1987). Don't miss the sculpture of the late guitarist Jerry Garcia's right hand, which is famously missing a finger.
Then head upstairs to the library's Special Collections department, where more Dead treasures (including a tie-dyed T-shirt and a plush dancing bear) take up an estimated 500 linear feet of shelf space.
The archive's digital music collection — more than 10,000 concert recordings — is available to anyone online, but because of rights issues, librarians say, many recordings can be heard in full only if you're on campus. (Allow me to recommend the Oct. 6, 1984, show at the Richmond Coliseum, especially "Fire on the Mountain.")
Anyway, the librarians will let you look at much of their collection. My favorite document was the contract from a 1980 gig in East Troy, Wis., which gave the Dead $50,000 plus a share of the gross receipts.
Be sure to leave enough time to wander among the campus redwoods, and keep an eye out for deer and, underfoot, the school's notorious banana slugs.
Where: 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, 342 miles northwest of downtown L.A.
How much: Free. But if you get a parking ticket in the lot outside McHenry Library, that'll be $50.
Info: Dead Central