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Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Backyard

June 18, 2016 – August 28, 2016

The suburban backyard is an American original — an invention so familiar it hardly seems invented at all. In the 1950s, America was a nation emerging from the shadow of World War II, searching for ways to enjoy its newfound peace and prosperity.

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One postwar trend was the dramatic rise in home ownership, contributing to the development of the suburban backyard.

Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Backyard explores the mid-century backyard from the rise of the suburbs and tract houses, to the beauty of postwar garden design, and the birth of the environmental movement.

Filled with vintage photographs, historic drawings, and fun period advertisements, the exhibition reveals how these spaces became such an integral part of American popular culture.

Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Backyard is presented by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Smithsonian Garden’s Archive of American Gardens.