FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Julia Child's Kitchen

Detail of Julia's Kitchen

Legendary cook and teacher Julia Child (1912–2004) had a tremendous impact on food and culinary history in America. Through her books and television series, which spanned forty years, she encouraged people to care about food and cooking. She inspired many Americans to conquer their fears of the unfamiliar and to expand their ideas about ingredients and flavors, tools and techniques, and meals in general.

Julia’s kitchen from her Cambridge, Massachusetts, home provides both a starting point and a backdrop for this exhibition on changing foods and foodways in America in the second half of the 20th century. It contains tools and equipment from the late 1940s, when Julia Child began her life in food, through to 2001, when she donated this kitchen to the Smithsonian Institution.

Julia Child's kitchen on display in the FOOD exhibition

Julia Child's kitchen on display in the FOOD exhibition

The last three of Julia's television shows produced in the 1990s were filmed in this kitchen. To turn the kitchen into a set, producers removed the table, chairs, and back wall cabinets, where they stationed the cameras. They added curtains to the windows, mounted light poles on the ceiling, and installed a large cooking island in the center. On television, Julia and her guest cooks used her kitchenware.

Julia Child in her home kitchen, 1975

Julia Child in her home kitchen, 1975

Courtesy of Albie Walton