Barbecue exhibit coming to Atlanta History Center

“Barbecue Nation,” an exhibition coming to the Atlanta History Center in May, 2018, will feature an array of barbecue artifacts. / Photo courtesy Atlanta History Center

Barbecue fans, get ready to queue up: a barbecue exhibition is coming to the Atlanta History Center next spring.

Opening May 5, 2018, in conjunction with National Barbecue Month, the “Barbecue Nation” exhibition will take visitors through the annals of barbecue history.

The journey of cooking over an open fire begins with the New World  (and the origins of word itself), as mentioned in the first encounters between indigenous populations in the Caribbean and Europeans in the 1490s, and continues to the present-day, with cookout paraphernalia from every region of the country.

“Barbecue touches on almost every part of our national history,” said Barbecue Nation guest curator Jim Auchmutey. “It involves the age of discovery, the colonial era, the Civil War, the settling of the West, the coming of immigrants, the Great Migration of blacks and whites from the South, the spread of automobiles, the expansion of suburbia, and the rejiggering of gender roles. It is entwined with our politics and tangled up with our race relations.”

Auchmutey is the author of “The Ultimate Barbecue Sauce Cookbook.” His illustrated history of barbecue will be published by the University of Georgia Press next fall, in conjunction with the exhibition.

“Barbecue Nation” will include an array of barbecue-related artifacts, images and oral histories from restaurants, festivals, community gatherings, and archives and museums from across the country. Highlights include historic photos and advertisements from the ’50s and ’60s, including an ad for Armour’s Ribs in a Can. It will also feature cookbooks, postcards, matchbooks, menus, place settings and obscure gadgets like the Charcoal Exciter, a 1960s device for igniting briquettes.

Other eye candy for ‘cue lovers will include vintage grills that demonstrate the evolution of backyard cooking. Among them: a 1948 Char-Broil Wheelbarrow Picnic Cooker, an early-model Weber kettle, a 1970s Big Green Egg and President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s GE Partio Cart cooker that he fired up at his retirement home in Palm Springs, California.

The exhibit will be on display through June 3, 2019.

 

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