University Museums

Mid-century Modern

BROWSE Mid-century Modern
The end of World War II brought about an era of prosperity and incredible change in America. While many European countries struggled to regain their economic footing in the wake of abject destruction, America was relatively unscathed. The ensuing economic boom would transform how Americans lived, worked, and consumed goods. As a result, the various consumer industries ramped up production, enabled planned obsolescence, and made America a nation of buyers, all while great social change and Cold War fears informed a rapidly changing culture from 1945 through the 1960s. With rapid demobilization there was an enormous influx of American soldiers returning home in the years just after the end of World War II. As young families began to embark on their post-wartime lives, there was a great need for suitable and economically priced housing. Credits and grants supported by the government for veterans and young homebuyers further bolstered the new housing market. The “American Dream” sense of idealism associated with owning your own home ran rampant and significantly changed the lifestyles of Americans. In response, home builders began to rapidly develop suburban enclaves, filled with streets of easy to construct housing, where every home owner had their own patch of green, a driveway for their new car (a necessity as people moved out of urban centers and into the rambling suburbs), and a sparkling new kitchen for women to cook and entertain from. A great economy, a ready and willing population of consumers, and American idealism brought forth a new era of design for fashion and consumer goods, most especially those associated with the decoration of the home. Today this period of time, 1945 through the 1960s, is referred to as Mid-Century Modern. A catchall phrase that encapsulates a completely new style of home decoration, taste, fashion, and life that occurred during these years of post-war boom.