New exhibit: House & Home exhibit open at ND Heritage Center & State Museum

Submitted Photo The Carson House, Eureka, California, 1960, by Jack E. Boucher is part of the “House & Home” exhibit.

BISMARCK – A new traveling exhibit at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum explores the history and cultural meanings of the American home.

The State Historical Society of North Dakota’s website explains the exhibit as follows:

“Our houses are more than a structure where we sleep and store our belongings, they represent us in the most practical and honest way. House & Home is the story of objects, of communities, of buildings, of changes, of values, of people.

“How do things like weather, population, immigration, war, agriculture, transportation, and economy affect how we build our homes? What household items have changed the way we live and work? What makes a house a “home”?

“These questions and themes run through this hands-on, educational exhibition.

“Today, owning a house is iconic of the American Dream, of success and security. Laws have been made to protect homeowners and to encourage even those with little money to buy their own home. Through self-satisfaction and pride of ownership, an economy can grow and thrive. But the home industry also has the power to topple an economy.

“Americans’ connection to home is palpable. You can hear it in songs, read of it in books and poetry, see children “play house”, and even scroll through thousands of blogs and websites totally devoted to home improvement, decorating, and organization.

“House & Home explores the idea that architecture and material culture can tell us stories about who we are, how we live, and what we aspire to be. Through photographs, old advertisements, historic documents, vintage household items, and first-hand accounts of home life, the exhibit will demonstrate the familiar, yet complex, world of “home”.

“By exploring the variety of houses, past and present, you can discern how the way we live and what we value shapes the look and layout of our houses. Adobe makes sense in the Southwest, but would be quite impractical for a coastal New England house. See in this exhibition how the materials we use to make our houses has been born out of what is available to use and what the climate and culture of the region demanded. Then consider how things may look different in the future.

“A walk through the exhibition is a walk through time and place, but it is also a window into the future. What story would your house tell about you? What makes any wood, brick, stone, glass, or mud structure a home?

“Thanks to the collaboration of National Endowment for the Humanities on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Mid America Arts Alliance, House & Home is here to tell these stories. After all, like Bryson said, our houses are where history ends up.”

The N.D. Heritage Center & State Museum is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. It will be closed on New Year’s Day. Admission is always free.