FOOD: Transforming the American Table

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 the United States. Through dozens of 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. Her kitchen, which she called the "beating heart and social center of her household," was her favorite room.

 

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 the United States since 1950. 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 in her home kitchen, 1975

Julia Child in her home kitchen, 1975

Courtesy of Albie Walton

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 Child's 1990s television shows were filmed in this kitchen. To turn it into a set, producers removed the table, chairs, and back wall cabinets, and stationed the cameras at one of the doorways. They added curtains, mounted light poles, and installed a central cooking island. On television, Julia and her guests used her kitchenware.