The Museum of Work in Norrköping, Sweden, would like to initiate a European Union project among the Worklab-museums concerning an exhibition on Food and Work. In the most fundamental way these two entities are the bases for all human societies; in the peasant-, in the industrial- and in today’s post-industrial society. In all these time periods humans have had both joy and problems with Food and Work. For the individual, to much work and lack of food used to be the greatest problem. Nowadays this has been turned upside down; the problem is, that in the Western world we are producing – and eating – to much food, and we have problems with employing people (starvation and hard work as a threat to health has been replaced by fatness and unemployment as the main threats to health).
The food chain workers and the consumers
We would like to tell the story about food and work through the experiences made by people employed in the food sector and by the ordinary consumers. Such an exhibition can deal with a lot of important questions around food and work that are being posed in the modern western world, for example costs and benefits with the escalating production efficiency in farming and in industry. On the one hand, raised productivity gives the consumers more and cheaper food and more and cheaper goods. On the other hand it forces us to some sacrifices; closed factories and unemployment, the abandoning of biologically and culturally rich landscapes, environmental threats due to among other things over fertilization and ethically questionable methods in animal breading.
In order to deal with these questions we would like to produce an exhibition where people occupied in the food sector is given a chance to tell their stories. For example:
– How does the English farming families look upon the connection between large scale farming and BSE?
– What does the Polish or Hungarian farming families, and the politicians in the EU, have to say about the agricultural politics (CAP)? Is it for example right to use the surplus that large scale farming creates to restore landscapes or is it only a way of closing the borders for farmers in the third world?
– What does the animal transports driver feel about animal welfare and is he or she ethical responsible?
– What are the fishermen’s view on fish quotas and fish populations?
Also employed in the food sector are scientists and this gives us a possibility to deal with gene modification in both plants and animals (Dolly). Furthermore it is interesting to ask for the. Consumers views. Are we making choices with our wallets, minds or hearts?
With this paper we would like to inform you of our intentions and kindly ask you for ideas that can develop the project. Which subjects should we focus on?
The exhibition itself, which is planned to open in Bruxelles 2009, will be administrated, finished and put together by a joint project leader. This is a way of showing that the project has a value to the European citizens and not only to the participating museums. The project leader should there fore be faithful to the project – not to the museums involved in it. We are looking forward hearing from you.
Niklas Cserhalmi. Ph. D. in history of agriculture, Deputy Director
Maud Fjellman, Economist, Head of Finance
Torsten Nilsson, Industrial historian, Working Life Curator
Museum of Work, Sweden