The grounds of the White House are an 18-acre oasis in the middle of the thriving metropolis of Washington, DC. The gardens have been the backdrop for many important gatherings and events in our history, including the signing of important documents. The White House Garden explores the rich heritage of the grounds.
The exhibit was organized by the White House Historical Association and traveled by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES). The exhibit panels are printed on heavy fabric and hung on white metal columns designed to mimic the pillars of the White House. Latticework completes the “garden” effect on top of each freestanding panel support.
Panels explore the chronological history of the gardens, highlighting events during many administrations. During the Civil War, Union troops marched on the lawn at the White House, and President Rutherford B. Hayes was the first to host the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn. Independent panels explore commemorative tree plantings, the head gardeners, and White House weddings, including Tricia Nixon’s wedding in the gardens.
The White House Garden brings the story to the present administration with a panel highlighting First Lady Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden she planted as part of her children’s nutrition initiative. There has not been a vegetable garden at the White House since a Victory Garden was planted during World War II. The exhibit panel about Mrs. Obama was added while the exhibit was on the road. It has been traveling since 2008.
The exhibition includes a 30-minute video with additional information that is not covered in the exhibition, including film footage of President Ford enjoying his first swim in the new White House pool and a rare glimpse of the President’s Patio built for President Reagan. The video was produced during the Clinton administration, so it does not cover anything beyond his administration.
The exhibition is on view at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum in Canton, Ohio through the end of January 2011.
2/19/2011 to 4/17/2011
Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, KS
7/23/2011 to 9/18/2011
California University of Pennsylvania, California, PA
1/1/2012 to 2/26/2012
Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens, San Clemente, CA
3/10/2012 to 5/6/2012
Decatur Public Library, Decatur, IL
5/26/2012 to 7/22/2012
William F. Laman Public Library, North Little Rock, AR