With a growing awareness of where our food comes from and how it is made, the Alimentarium—the world’s first-ever museum devoted to food in Vevey, Switzerland—has introduced its new annual theme focused on the people involved in food preparation. Whether a small artisan producer, a large multi-national company or parents cooking for their family, the museum plans to highlight “The Faces Behind Food” until March 31, 2019.
Nestlé founded the Alimentarium in 1985, and since its reopening in 2016 after a major renovation project, the museum has selected an annual theme each year to guide its programming. For the museum’s first theme, it considered food in terms of “Vice or Virtue,” exploring the labels of “good” or “bad” applied to specific foods, like sugar, superfoods, GMOs and artificial flavors. Now in its second year, its new theme discusses the people who produce our food—their emotions, experience and knowledge. It will present this theme through various means, such as exhibitions, workshops, events, presentations and digital content.
The museum itself has three individual sectors—Food, Body and Society, which all have new installations connected to this year’s theme. In the Society Sector, you will find a 1950s kitchen—the epicenter of food production in a family household—complete with the gadgets of the era. In the Food Sector, you can take a Mystery Object quiz, to determine the function of various tools used to prepare food. The Body Sector has information about two lesser-known professions from the food industry, sensory analyst and a flavorist.
The Alimentarium will feature professionals working in five food industry sectors throughout the year, including:
- Dairy products: May 2018
- Confectionery: June-July 2018
- Fruit & vegetables: August-September 2018
- Meat: October-December 2018
- Bakery: Beginning of 2019 through March 2019
While the Alimentarium has an international focus, you will certainly find some elements of the new theme specific to Swiss food. For example, the museum has put a special press on display, used to make the prototype of the Maggi bouillon cube, invented in Switzerland by Julius Maggi. The Society Sector also includes professionals from various food-related trades in Switzerland talking about their jobs in video testimonies. In addition, existing workshops at the Alimentarium, such as “La cuisine des artisans” (Local produce, gastronomic delights)—which I have attended, fit well with its new theme. This workshop takes you into the streets of Vevey to meet with local producers, who supply you with the ingredients for a meal prepared back at the museum’s kitchen.