And they’ve got some surprise fun of their own planned for the public at 1 p.m. on the big day. Butter and music will be involved.
“We just had to make the 100th,” says Rayna Green, one of the original team motivated to aim big 11 years ago. Museumgoers “have been begging us since the exhibit closed in early January,” she says.
Those who have committed to memory the peg boards and lorgnette and tableware-filled firkins through repeated visits or online via www.americanhistory.si.edu/kitchen will be pleased to press their noses up against a set of windows whose blinds were previously drawn. Keen eyes can now decipher Child’s handwritten label on the coffeemaker and assess the physics of a countertop stone-crab claw cracker that looks like it belongs beside an architect’s drawing board.
The setting is ultra-real yet reverential. In this ordinary space, an extraordinary woman changed the way Americans ate. Three of her cooking shows were televised in it, amid the utensils, objects and art that made her happy. Where’s the appeal in a soulless, sleek cooking environment with everything tucked out of sight? This exhibit makes you wonder, and the curators say it prompts strangers to share stories with one another as they explore.
It gets even better for Julia-philes. The copper pot collection represented only in outline until it was reunited with Child’s kitchen in 2009 now hangs directly across from where it belonged. Child’s French Legion of Honor medal of 2000 and the 1996 Emmy statuette for “In Julia’s Kitchen With Master Chefs” are displayed nearby. The mystery of an accompanying, cantaloupe-size tea infuser has been solved: It’s a rice-cooking ball, says co-curator and project director Paula Johnson.
When “Julie & Julia” director Nora Ephron came to see the pots’ unveiling, she wrote a check on the spot to help support the museum’s Julia Child efforts. “She loved food, and she loved Julia,” Green says.
The so-called JC100 celebration has been building since May — 100 days’ worth, involving bookstores, social media and restaurants nationwide. Credit the marketing prowess of Alfred A. Knopf, which has this month published “Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child,” and Kim Yorio, head of YC Media public relations in New York.
“You come up with these things and wonder how they’re going to go,” she said last week in a phone interview. “I wanted to share the rigor and quality of her recipes with a new generation. I kind of don’t want it all to end.”