The NEH on the Road version of House & Home draws on themes originated by the National Building Museum to encourage visitors to explore how our ideal of the perfect house and our experience of what it means to "be at home" have changed over time. The exhibition includes domestic furnishings and home construction materials, photographs, "please touch" interactive components, and films. Together, the objects and images illustrate how transformations in technology, government policy, and consumer culture have impacted American domestic life.
House & Home presents an overview of architecture styles and living patterns that have been featured in American homes over the years. Quotes, toys, and other graphic advertising materials prompt visitors to think about the different ideas embodied in the words "house" and "home." The exhibition also showcases domestic objects - from cooking utensils to telephones - and traces how household goods tell the stories of our family traditions, heritage, and the activity of daily living.
Another key section of House & Home explores how different laws, historic trends, and economic factors have impacted housing in America. The American Dream, once more generally seen as an aspiration to prosperity, grew in the 20th century to be synonymous with home ownership. Visitors learn about the economy of housing and how homes have been promoted and sold. Issues of housing inequality, land distribution, and the role of the government are examined, from the Colonial period though the Homestead Act and the creation of the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s; and from the Oklahoma Land Rush to the subprime loan crisis. Related sections of House & Home looks outward, exploring the relationship of the individual house to the larger society by presenting examples of contemporary community development through film.
Video and film features immerse audiences in a nation-wide tour of residential buildings and community developments that reflect contemporary trends. From futuristic dormitories to post-Katrina communities built on shared interests in music, the images evoke the experience of residential space and illustrate the evolution and diversity of American domestic architecture, design, and community. In its scope, content, and presentation House & Home moves beyond the bricks and mortar to challenge our ideas about what it means to be at home in America.