1950s: Building the American Dream


  • Ohio History Center 800 East 17th Avenue Columbus, OH, 43211 United States

Experience life in the 1950s by putting your feet up on the couch, playing a record, peeking in drawers and rolling in the grass in a full-size prefabricated Lustron home built inside the museum at the Ohio History Center.

Expect to see items like a 1957 Chevy Bellaire, an Airstream trailer, Roy Rogers toys and decorations, a bomb shelter hatch, 1950s television news and programs, and a combination clothes and dishwasher! Stop by at the right time and you may get to meet a Lustron salesperson on the front lawn, a doctor making a house call or a mother making a cake in the kitchen.

With the Lustron home as the literal frame to experience the decade, the exhibit invites visitors to explore the complex social environment of a “real” nuclear family from Central Ohio living in a Lustron home during the 1950s: a father, mother, boy, and new baby girl. Through this family, visitors can encounter three themes that define the decade:

  • Family and Gender Roles: Traditional roles for men and women and fathers and mothers were redefined by the post-World War II boom and vastly different from previous and later generations.
  • Social and Political issues: From segregated housing to the Civil Rights movement to the Cold War to McCarthyism, the 1950s was anything but ideal for so many Americans.
  • Popular Culture: The popular music, literature, art, and design of the 1950s is undeniably alluring and retains devout followers 60+ years later.

The exhibit will be on display at the Ohio History Center until 2018.