TBAE Travels Back in Time at the Tampa Bay History Center.

Patios, Pools, and The Invention of the American Backyard

Written by Kayleigh Bentley

Tampa , FL (July 1st, 2015) - Patios, Pools and the Invention of the American Backyard is the Tampa Bay History Center’s brand new Smithsonian Affiliated exhibit, offering museum goers a true blast from the past.

Tampa Bay Arts & Education Network was invited to attend the Member & Guest Reception for the opening of this exhibit this past Thursday, June 25th, and we are so grateful to have had this opportunity. Getting an inside look at TBHC’s newest exhibits is always something we look forward to, so we jumped at the opportunity!

As part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), this exhibit is open from June 20-August 30 of this year. This exhibit allows on-lookers to explore the historical development of an American, and especially Floridian, tradition. Through rare photographs, historic drawings and advertisements from the era, Pools, Patios and the Invention of the American Backyard explores in depth the mid-century backyard boom and the rise of suburbs.

In the 1950s, Americans switched from the old “front-porch” style of homes, with outdated porch swings and communal pools, to the new wide-open suburban feel with spacious yet private backyards. In many ways, the American backyard became an extension of the house itself, and modern inventions such as insecticides, air conditioning, and two-car garages made home-owners more comfortable through-out the home. Without giving too much away, this exhibit details everything from favored gardening styles, the growth of home improvement magazines, to even the effects backyard maintenance had on the environment!

This piece of modern history offers Tampa Bay residents and beyond an inside look at the growth of the middle class and the rise in home-ownership in a context most familiar to them. Guests flowed through the exhibit with the sounds of mid-century tropical jazz music, but not before enjoying on of Tampa’s Best, Holy Hog Barbecue, most fitting for the backyard theme. Specialty beers were crafted and provided by Special Hoperations, a Tampa native as well.

Rodney Kite- Powell, Curator of History with TBHC, stated in his introduction, “The American backyard is something Floridians are quite familiar with, and it’s important we know its history of modernization, and although this exhibit is national, there are some great pieces from right here in Tampa, even with pictures from some of our very own staff!”

Patios, Pools and the Invention of the American Backyard is on view at the Tampa Bay History Center through August 30.  For more information, contact the History Center at (813) 228-0097 or online at www.tampabayhistorycenter.org.