The White House Garden | Rose Garden in bloom, 2007. Courtesy White House Historical Association


Archived exhibitions are no longer available for booking but are maintained as a virtual record of past Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) programs.

If the White House is the “People’s House,” then its gardens are truly America’s gardens. From Easter egg rolls and ceremonies honoring fellow citizens, to treaty signings and receptions for heads of state, the gardens and grounds surrounding the White House bear the mark of history. This spectacular 18-acre ensemble of formal gardens, secluded natural retreats, and expansive parkland has been shaped by America’s presidents and first ladies, some of the nation’s best-known landscape designers and architects, and generations of dedicated gardeners and horticulturists.

Thomas Jefferson's plan for the garden, 1802-05. Courtesy Library of CongressOrganized with the White House Historical Association, The White House Garden traces the development of the gardens and grounds from the plans of Pierre Charles L’Enfant to the present. Reproductions of archival materials and historic and contemporary photographs from the National Archives and Records Administration, Library of Congress, and other sources focus on the presidents and their families, White House gardeners, special gardens, the grounds’ magnificent trees, and planting plans.

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Exhibition Specifications

Contents Freestanding units with reproductions of photographs, drawings, maps, and correspondence with text
Supplemental Companion book, 30-min. video (venue provides equipment), educational and promotional resources, speaker list, bibliography
Participation Fee $4,500 per 8-week booking
Size 1,000 square feet (95 square meters)
Crates 4
Weight 2,580 lbs.
Category History & Culture
Security Limited
Shipping Outgoing
SITES Contacts Fredric Williams, 202.633.3103 (Content)
Minnie Russell, 202.633.3160 (Scheduling)
Toured Through Spring 2012
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Tour Itinerary

Dates   Host Institution Status
5/10/2008 7/13/2008 United States Botanic Garden, Washington, DC Booked
8/2/2008 9/28/2008 The Museums of Oglebay Institute, Wheeling, WV Booked
10/18/2008 12/14/2008 Wegerzyn Gardens Metropark, Dayton, OH Booked
1/10/2009 3/8/2009 Lucius E. and Elsie C. Burch, Jr. Library, Collierville, TN Booked
3/28/2009 5/24/2009 Anniston Museum of Natural History, Anniston, AL Booked
6/13/2009 8/9/2009 Museum of the Gulf Coast, Port Arthur, TX Booked
8/29/2009 10/25/2009 Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park, Canandaigua, NY Booked
11/14/2009 1/10/2010 Dixon Historic Center, Dixon, IL Booked
1/30/10 3/28/10 Georgia Highlands College, Rome, GA Booked
4/17/2010 6/13/2010 James K. Polk Ancestral Home, Columbia, TN Booked
7/3/2010 8/29/2010 Spartanburg County Public Library, Spartanburg, SC Booked
9/18/2010 11/14/2010 White House Visitor Center, Washington, DC Booked
12/4/2010 1/30/2011 William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, Canton, OH Booked
2/19/2011 4/17/2011 Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, KS Booked
5/7/2011 9/18/2011 California University of Pennsylvania, California, PA Booked
10/08/2011 12/04/2011 Texarkana Museum System, Texarkana, TX Booked
1/1/2012 2/26/2012 Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens, San Clemente, CA Booked
3/10/2012 5/6/2012 Decatur Public Library, Decatur, IL Booked
5/26/2012 7/22/2012 William F. Laman Public Library, North Little Rock, AR Booked
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The White House Garden
Exhibition Prospectus, includes rare archival images of life and leisure on the famed White House grounds.

>> Download Exhibition Prospectus

The White House Garden Exhibition Prospectus

The White House Garden
Exhibition Brochure, featuring colorful contemporary images and full planting plan of the Rose Garden.

>> Download Exhibition Brochure

The White House Garden Exhibition Brochure
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Press Release

March 20, 2008


Media only:  Jennifer Schommer (202) 633-3121                  
Public only: (202) 633-1000 or TTY (202) 633-5285

White House Gardens Bring American History to Life in New Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition

The stately grounds of the White House have served as an impressive stage for everything from eloquent weddings and royal receptions to Easter egg hunts and President Eisenhower’s personal putting green. Today, after more than 200 years as the site of those events, that backdrop of history comes to the fore with “The White House Garden,” a new exhibition developed and supported by the White House Historical Association and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

Egg roll, 1894.The White House Garden debuts at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., May 10 through July 13 and then continues on an eight-city, national tour through 2011. Americans from across the country will be introduced to this fascinating historic landscape through an outstanding collection of photos, drawings, maps and even family and business correspondence.
Since the 1790s, presidents, first families, renowned landscape architects and countless other Americans have contributed to the development of the formal gardens and parkland surrounding the “people’s house,” shaping the land into an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind national touchstone and treasure and the oldest continuously landscaped garden in the U.S.

The White House Garden captures the magic and beauty of more than two centuries in the life of a living garden,” said Neil W. Horstman, president of the White House Historical Association. “Just as the White House serves as home, official residence, office and museum, so too has the garden been the scene of both historical events and informal gatherings. If trees could talk we would have one more chapter in American history books.”

“The White House gardens are more than just a staging ground for history- they are a truly unique looking glass of American life, culture and politics throughout our nation’s history,” said Anna Cohn, director of SITES. “We are honored to work with the White House Historical Association to bring to life the White House gardens in cities across the country for the very first time.”
The White House Garden paints a botanical and historical portrait through a series of thematic sections that highlight three gardens in particular: the Rose Garden, the East Garden (the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden) and the Children’s Garden.  Key to the development, design and evolution of the gardens are some of the biggest figures in American landscape design, including Andrew Jackson Downing, Beatrix Farrand and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. They built upon a canvas first envisioned by famed city planner Pierre L’Enfant, who set aside 82 acres for a President’s Park in 1792, when the nation’s capital was little more than a collection of farms and marshes.

Visitors to the exhibit will learn about the daunting challenges posed by this indigenous landscape, see the innovative changes and renovations that occurred as the grounds were rebuilt after the War of 1812 and be drawn into the decisions and deliberations of the 20th- and 21st-century presidents who added their own contemporary touches. The exhibit features Thomas Jefferson, designer of the area’s first landscape plans; John Quincy Adams, who worked in the garden alongside White House gardener John Ousley; Theodore Roosevelt, who reluctantly allowed his architects to demolish his cherished conservatory; John F. Kennedy, who made the private Rose Garden near the Oval Office into an outdoor meeting place that accommodates a 1,000 spectators; and Harry S. Truman and George H.W. Bush, both of whom enjoyed a lively game of horseshoes.

The exhibit illustrates the various roles the White House gardens have played in the international and domestic affairs of each administration: Presidents Tyler and Lincoln held receptions for the public; Civil War soldiers carried out drills on the South Lawn; Jacqueline Kennedy hosted ballet performances and concerts; and Lady Bird and Lyndon Baines Johnson held dinners and barbecues within view of the sweeping lawns and the grounds’ carefully tended flower beds.
More than 500 trees planted on the grounds also are highlighted in the exhibit. Initially documented by first daughter Amy Carter as part of a school project, many of the trees were planted for ceremonial purposes. Among the most renowned are the ancient magnolia planted by Andrew Jackson in memory of his late wife Rachel and the dogwood planted by Bill and Hillary Clinton in 1995, dedicated to the children killed in the Oklahoma City bombing.  

The White House Historical Association, established in 1961, is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to enhance the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the White House. All proceeds from the association’s trusts, publications and other items are used to fund acquisitions of historic furnishings and artwork for the permanent collection, assist in the preservation of the public rooms, and further its educational mission. For more information visit

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Exhibition Specifications

Tour Itinerary

Exhibition Images

Exhibition Prospectus

Related Publications

Press Release

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Washington, DC 20013-7012
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