Monday, 20 January 2014

JULIA CHILD'S KITCHEN AT THE SMITHSONIAN

MUSEUM MONDAYS

BY: BRITTNEY SPROULE

Before I kick off with my contribution to Musings' first Museum Monday post, I'd like to welcome you to both the blog and this column! I'd also like to introduce myself-- I'm Brittney Sproule, a current first year Museum Studies student and but one half of the Museum Monday duo. My fellow Museum Studies cohort Alex Jeffery will also be contributing to this column.

There will be two parts to each Museum Monday post: one featuring a particular museum/cultural institution or some aspect of a museum/cultural institution (exhibit, program, etc.), and one featuring a current news story involving a museum/cultural institution (either locally, nationally, etc.). If you have any suggestions for topics, themes, stories, exhibitions, museums, etc. that you'd like to see in this column, don't hesitate to share your ideas with us!

BON APPÉTIT: JULIA CHILD'S KITCHEN AT THE SMITHSONIAN


Julia Child  (Source)


In light of the recent Museum Studies group trip to Washington D.C., I thought it would be fun to feature a more in-depth look at part of an exhibit some of us actually had the chance to visit! The following is a link to the National Museum of American History’s (NMAH) online exhibition about culinary icon Julia Child: Bon Appétit: Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian.


(Source)

Julia’s actual kitchen is currently on display in its entirety at the NMAH, now part of a larger exhibition titled FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000. In Washington, a small group of us were lucky enough to get the chance to talk to Paula Johnson, one of the curators of the FOOD exhibit. As we all gathered around Julia’s kitchen at the entrance of the exhibition, Paula recounted a few of the amazing experiences her and her colleagues had during the process of creating this exhibition-- most notably, meeting and interviewing Julia in person, as well as trying to figure out how to acquire and then reconstruct an entire kitchen for a museum display!


Julia's Cambridge, MA kitchen on display at the Smithsonian NMAH (Source)

The NMAH’s Bon Appétit online exhibition features the kitchen and all the objects in it from Julia’s former home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The kitchen was designed by her husband Paul in 1961 and acquired by the Smithsonian in 2001. This virtual exhibit is a wonderful supplement to the physical exhibition in the NMAH. It portrays some of the most defining events in Julia’s life and career and also describes specific items and areas of interest in her kitchen through the use of images, interactive tours and timelines, as well as audio and video clips. As one who did not get the chance to grow up watching Julia’s cooking shows, I find the audio and video clips particularly enjoyable. Julia’s personality certainly shines through in her distinctively animated way of speaking and presenting herself.
Enjoy!


All information, photos, and videos in this post courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History:
Bon Appetit virtual exhibit:
http://amhistory.si.edu/juliachild/ 
Information on the NMAH’s acquisition of Julia’s kitchen:
http://www.americanhistory.si.edu/kitchen/
Introduction to FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000 
http://americanhistory.si.edu/food-introduction 

4 comments:

  1. Great post to kick off a Monday! For those of us who did not go to DC, the digital "Explore the Kitchen Exhibit" is an excellent addition to your description here. For those who are interested in Julia Child's life and work, I wholeheartedly recommend her memoir *My Life in France.* It is one of the most joyful and adventurous memoirs I have ever read. A great pairing (if you will) with the trip to the exhibit.

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  2. There is no better way to start the week than by reminiscing of things and places inspired by Julia Child. I second Katherine's suggestion for Julia's memoir - and one day I will find a way to integrate this in my syllabus. When I was teaching at Carleton University, my Communication students read the Hunger Games! MMSt students, beware :) and great post, Brittney!

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  3. Lovely post, Brittney! Although I didn't get to take the tour of the FOOD exhibit with Paula Johnson while in Washington, I did visit the exhibit on my own time, and was quite in awe of Julia's kitchen. I can't imagine having that many pots and pans in one kitchen - it is so wonderful to think that each probably served a very special purpose, and reminds me how I have things in my kitchen that I keep around just for a specific purpose or dish. I wonder if it was difficult for her to part with kitchen tools that she had used for so long.

    Maybe once I graduate (and finally have time to read for pleasure), I will pick up Julia's memoir - sounds like a great read!

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  4. Thanks for the feedback everyone! I find it wonderfully fascinating how so many people have been able to connect with Julia Child either as a person and/or as a iconic public personality on so many different levels - through her shows, cookbooks, the display of her kitchen at the NMAH, or her memoirs. Food really does have a way of bringing us all together I guess ;) I will definitely follow your suggestions Katherine and Irina, and check out "My Life in France."

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