Warren and Barbara Winiarski To Make $4 Million Bequest to Smithsonian Funding Permanent Position for Curator of Food and Wine History

Caps 25 Years of Support for National Museum of American History’s Food and Wine Programs

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History announced today a major bequest to establish a permanent position for a curator of food and wine history. The $4 million gift from Warren and Barbara Winiarski, and the Winiarski Family Foundation, of Napa, California, comes 25 years after the Winiarskis provided initial funding for the museum to launch a research and collecting initiative on the history of American wine and winemaking. That initiative has expanded to become the widely recognized “American Food History Project,” the museum’s dynamic, transdisciplinary program that, in concert with diverse audiences and partners, explores American history through the all-encompassing lens of food.

The new position will be known as the “Winiarski Curator of Food and Wine History” and will ensure the continuation of the museum’s robust research, collecting, exhibition and programming activities in food and beverage history.

“We are delighted and so very grateful to the Winiarskis for their vision of documenting the impact of viniculture and the evolution of American winemaking and accompanying food culture to ensure its central place in U.S. history,” said Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director. “Their support over the decades and this generous bequest will sustain and enhance the nuanced and central place of food and wine history for the benefit of our many audiences.”

“Barbara and I are delighted to witness the light that grew brighter from the small spark we ignited with our first gift to the museum 25 years ago,” Winiarski said. “Our hopes then focused on restoring wine to the pre-Prohibition esteem it had once enjoyed. Inspired by the opinions of our Founding Fathers when we made our initial gift to the Smithsonian, little did we envision the major, more encompassing, food history project that spark engendered. By endowing a dedicated curatorial position, we are supporting its sustainability beyond our own lifetimes and the title of the position, Curator of Food and Wine History, represents the fulfillment of our original hopes.”

To support the curatorial position with funding for ongoing research, collecting and programming, the museum is launching the “25 at 25 Initiative: Food Fund for the Future” to sustain the American Food History Project. With the goal of raising at least 25 gifts of $25,000 or more, the museum has secured a lead donation from the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. That gift commemorates another foundational milestone in the museum’s exploration of food history, the acquisition of Julia Child’s kitchen 20 years ago. The kitchen is central to the museum’s “Food: Transforming the American Table” exhibition.

The culmination of the museum’s 2021 food history offerings will be a hybrid fall event hosted by the museum Nov. 4 that will accompany the presentation of the 2021 Julia Child Award by the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. The museum and the foundation will release more details later this summer.

The 25 at 25 Initiative will also create new opportunities for the museum to work with individuals and communities on documenting, collecting and presenting food history to wider audiences. The museum’s “Kitchen Cabinet,” composed of chefs, food historians, authors, and other industry professionals, advises the museum’s Food and Wine History Project.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History seeks to empower people to create a more just and compassionate future by examining, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. As the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum is currently open Friday through Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, admission is always free, but reserved timed-entry passes are required. To make reservations, visit https://www.si.edu/visit or http://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may also call (202) 633-1000.

Explore the museum’s social media on Twitter (@amhistorymuseum), Facebook (@National Museum of American History) and Instagram (@amhistorymuseum). #SmithsonianFood


Image caption and credit: Barbara and Warren Winiarski, founders of Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, posing in front of a display of the 1976 Judgment of Paris winning wines in 2008.
(Photo by Richard Strauss courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History National Museum of American History)

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Valeska Hilbig
Melinda Machado