Columbia Pictures Donates Objects from “Julie & Julia” to Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Artifacts Document Work of Writer/Director Nora Ephron
July 28, 2009
Writer and director Nora Ephron donated several objects from the set of her new Columbia Pictures’ release “Julie & Julia” to the National Museum of American History in a special ceremony today. The film is based on the true stories of Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) and Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams)—a woman who cooked her way through Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and blogged about it.

“Julia Child was a pioneer in the culinary world for bridging the gap between French cuisine and the American audience,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “We are pleased to collect objects from a film that depicts Child’s contributions to the American table and life in general.”

The objects will be preserved in the museum’s collection of music, sports and entertainment history and include a costume Streep wore in her leading role as Child, an annotated script and photographs taken on-set, among other items. The collection tracks how entertainment reflects and propels everyday American life, and the objects from the set allow the museum to show an image of Child as portrayed by one of America’s greatest actresses. This motion picture represents the meeting of three influential women: Child, Ephron and Streep.

“Julia Child is larger than life, transcending the kitchen to become a popular culture icon, as evidenced by the Saturday Night Live skit and now this movie,” said Dwight Blocker Bowers, curator at the museum. “Ephron’s script and directing shows how fact is translated into fiction for the big screen.”

The museum preserves and displays Childs’s original kitchen from her Cambridge, Mass., home. The 14-by-20-foot kitchen was the testing site of numerous recipes and doubled as the set for three of her cooking series on PBS. Child donated the kitchen in 2001 when she decided to move back to California where she grew up. Curators and historic restoration experts carefully disassembled and then reassembled the cabinets and appliances for the museum’s exhibition “Bon Appétit! Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian.” The exhibition is located on the first floor of the museum and includes the original cabinets, counters, cookbooks, Garland commercial range and hundreds of utensils and gadgets. Explore the exhibition at http://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibition/juliachild.

“Julie & Julia” is based on Child’s autobiographical account “My Life in France” and Powell’s “Julie/Julia Project.” Child, who rose to fame with her groundbreaking recipe book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and several television series on PBS, documented the years she lived in France with husband Paul Child in a book co-written with her great-nephew, Alex Prud’homme. Powell, a young woman living in New York, cooked her way through Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” over the course of a year—while blogging about her experiences, which she deemed the “Julie/Julia Project.” The account was later turned into a novel. The film examines both women’s lives and features a reproduction of Child’s kitchen on display at the museum.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. The museum shines new light on American history after having been dramatically transformed by a two-year renovation. To learn more about the museum, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).