From the time you step off the curb, you begin experiencing the Smithsonian Institution through its expansive gardens. The Victory Garden sits on the east side of the American History museum and is an unconventional way to teach history. Using a design from a 1943 pamphlet, the Smithsonian Gardens has re-created a World War II victory garden to educate the public, not just about history, but botany as well. The garden contains over 50 varieties of vegetables and flowers that change with the seasons. Currently in late summer, the garden features plants from the mallow family, which includes some surprising plants, like hibiscus, cotton, and okra!
While you are visiting, check out “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000,” an entire, permanent exhibition highlighting food: its history, production, and consumption. The exhibition explores some of the major changes in food and eating in postwar America. Among the topics on the 3,800-square-foot exhibition are changes in food production and processing, who cooks and why, where and when meals are consumed and what people know (or think they know) about what is good for them. Julia Child’s kitchen, which she donated to the museum in 2001 along with its hundreds of tools, appliances and furnishings, serves as the opening story of “FOOD” and demonstrates her influence on the culinary field, food television, and the ways many Americans think about food and cooking.
“Food is a fundamental subject that everyone can relate to,” said Paula Johnson, museum curator and project director for the exhibition. “The second half of the 20th century was a time of rapid change in America. This exhibition taps into the widespread and robust interest in food-related topics and encourages dialogue about food and the forces and factors that influenced how and what we eat.”
“FOOD” has been made possible through support from Warren and Barbara Winiarski (Winiarski Family Foundation), the Land O’Lakes Foundation, the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, the History channel, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, and the Nutrients for Life Foundation.
For information on “FOOD,” visit http://food.americanhistory.si.edu.
By Julie Buratowski