House & Home: What Makes a House a Home?

House and Home

What makes a house a home? Throughout American history, people have lived in all sorts of places, from military barracks and two‐story colonials to college dormitories and row houses. House and Home, a new exhibition runs through October 18 at the West Baton Rouge Museum embarks on a tour of houses both familiar and surprising, through past and present, to explore the varied history, and many cultural meanings of the American home.

Drawn from the flagship installation at The National Building Museum, House and Home explore how our ideal of the perfect house and our experience of what it means to "be at home" have changed over time. Visitors will learn about issues of housing inequality, land distribution, and the role of the government, from the Colonial period though the Homestead Act and the creation of the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s.

Featured films, construction materials, domestic artifacts, and photographs immerse viewers in how transformations in technology, government policy, and consumer culture have impacted American domestic life. Related sections of House and Home look outward, exploring the relationship of the individual house to the larger society by presenting examples of contemporary community development through film.

Items from West Baton Rouge will be added to the nationally touring exhibition, including photographs and artifacts from local homes, as well as a section on Creole cottages. Visitors should also make time to tour the historic homes on the grounds of the West Baton Rouge Museum, including the Aillet House, an excellent example of Creole architecture originally located in Brusly, which has been beautifully restored to interpret 19th century life in our parish.

House and Home was organized by The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. and curated by Sarah Leavitt. House and Home has been made possible through NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It has been adapted and is being toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance. Founded in 1972, Mid-America Arts Alliance is the oldest regional nonprofit arts organization in the United States. For more information, visit the Mid-America Arts Alliance website, the National Endowment for the Humanities website, or call 225-336-2422, ext. 15.