A National Museum of Food
Our relationship with food impacts our health and wellbeing, economy, society and countryside. Yet most of us in the UK are now disconnected from food production. Greater understanding would benefit the public and the agricultural community alike.
Museums are places for people of all ages to deepen their understanding of the world in an engaging and relatable way. Yet there is no museum of food in the UK: no place where people can go to reflect on their relationship with food. We plan to transform the Museum of East Anglian Life into a gateway to help people consider the food future and the rural environment they want to build.
Our aim is that people understand where their food comes from. Using demonstration, displays, the living landscape, tastings and hands-on experiences, we will engage visitors with questions such as:
• How is food produced, packaged and sold?
• How do food choices impact on health and wellbeing?
• How does food production affect Britain’s landscape and nature?
• How will Britain and the world feed itself in the future?
• How can the public partner the agricultural community to ensure a sustainable food future?
We envisage that a visit will be particularly important for young people, at a time when we face real challenges around childhood obesity and diabetes.
The Museum of East Anglian Life’s site is ideally placed to deliver this vision. It is large (75 acres) and well-located (5 min from the A14; mainline rail to London in 1hr 15min; Norwich and Colcheste 30 mins; Cambridge 1hr). Its part-rural, part-urban character is ideal for the subject matter, and our excellent existing assets – collection, buildings, people, landscape put us in a good position to make an impact. The museum is located in East Anglia, the ‘breadbasket of England’ and will communicate a strong sense of place for visitors to the region.
Investment in the museum is also investment in the growing town of Stowmarket. The museum is a potential magnet for tourism, bringing economic and social benefits to the area: a must-see attraction for visitors and a source of pride for local people.
How do we get there?
We already have an ideal site and a strong collection which is well placed to tell the story of food. Food is the common thread which runs through our medieval barn, our watermill and our workers’ cottages; it encompasses our milk floats and modern machinery as well as it does our animals and water meadows.
We have a masterplan which breaks the delivery of the new museum into smaller projects. The parts are independent but complementary: each represents a step-change for the museum. Realisation of this plan will transform the Museum of East Anglian Life into the National Museum of Food, one of the leading independent museums in the country. We are looking for substantial investment and partnerships to help us realise this vision.