Through its exhibition, Within These Walls…, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History showcases 200 years of American history as seen from the doorstep of one house that stood from Colonial days through the mid-1960s in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Opened May 16, 2009, the 4,200-square-foot exhibition highlights five ordinary families whose lives within the walls of the house became part of the great changes and events of the nation’s past.
“Ordinary people, living their everyday lives can create extraordinary history,” said Spencer R. Crew, director of the National Museum of American History. “This exhibition will inspire our visitors to look at history in a new way, a history that begins at home,” he added.
The exhibition is sponsored by the National Association of Realtors®. “This truly is a historic event for NAR to be able to bring “Within These Walls…” to millions of visitors, said NAR President Richard A. Mendenhall.
The exhibition’s curatorial team researched nearly 100 occupants who once lived in the house. Their stories show some of the ways Americans have made history in their kitchens and parlors. Inside this house, American Colonists created a new genteel lifestyle, patriots set out to fight the Revolution, and an African-American struggled for freedom. Neighbors came together to end slavery, immigrants made a new home and earned a livelihood, and a woman and her grandson served on the home front during World War II.
Photos courtesy of the National Museum of American History.