University of Vermont

Food Systems Initiative

'EAT' Exhibit Opens, Student Curators Give Tours

Madison Moran
Madison Moran, a UVM junior, leads a tour of the exhibit her Honors College class curated.

Junior Madison Moran led the first gallery tour on Sept. 18 of the Fleming Museum's new exhibit, "EAT: The Social Life of Food," curated by her Honors College seminar course.

The exhibit, on display this semester and next, explores the connections between people and food, revealing how its preparation and consumption provides not just physical but also social and cultural sustenance. Culled from the Fleming's collections, "EAT" offers up items from near and far. A lacquered Japanese picnic box dated circa 1730 was used to carefully and elegantly transport finely prepared sushi for an afternoon outing. On the other side of the museum's Wilbur Room, a piece of Civil War hardtack-turned-stationery carries a message assuring a Vermont mother of her son's affection.

On the tour, Moran detailed the thought process her classmates followed as they selected and grouped items for the exhibit. The course, "Introduction to Museum Studies," taught by Jennifer Dickinson, associate professor of anthropology, and Margaret Tamulonis, manager of the Fleming's collections and exhibitions, gives students hands-on experience with curation -- and in the case of this exhibit, lets them connect with a range of cultures from ancient to modern times.

Beyond what Moran learned researching the collection's items, she says the group work was perhaps the most valuable part of the course. Getting to discover the contents of the museum's extensive storage -- from ancient Egypt to Andy Warhol -- was another perk in a class that marked a departure from Moran's usual environmental coursework. The payoff: sharing the end result with the public.

More tours are scheduled this fall on Oct. 10 and 24 and Nov. 1 at 2 p.m., either led by Moran or her classmate Nicole Bull.

Learn more on the Fleming Museum's website.