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Researching and Creating Historic Faux Foods and Room Settings


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Sandy Levins ( researches the foodways of bygone eras to create historically-accurate individual faux foods as well as entire period table and room settings. From a simple cheese-and-cracker platter to an extensive traditional holiday feast, Ms. Levins' replica foods help create the illusion of "lived-in" historic spaces rather than static museum displays.

Higher Audience Engagement Levels
Today, historic homes and museums compete for the public's attention against an accelerated pace of daily life as well as a vast array of digital entertainments and other distractions. It has never been more important for historical sites to find new ways to heighten the engagement and word-of-mouth potential of their programs and exhibits. Period food displays -- and the often-surprising stories that go with them -- can help achieve that. But to use real food in these settings is to literally invite all manner of pests, from mice and insects to mold and fungus, to the table. Ms. Levins recreates dishes that have been thoroughly researched and realistically crafted with non-organic, museum-safe materials.

Table & Room Settings
She also researches the overall environment of a historical foodways site display, assisting museums in the process of creating entire table or room settings that are as historically accurate as possible within the bounds of that institution's resources. The final displays are a mix of the institution's artifacts and faux foods both acquired from other sources as well as created by Ms. Levins.

Docent Fact Sheets
Helping to bring that final display fully to life are custom prepared docent fact sheets that provide engaging stories about the individual faux food items that enhance and enrich the interpretation of the display.

Faux Food Clients
Ms. Levins' work has also been featured in the "Yuletide Tour" as well as the Winterthur Museum & Country Estate's exhibit of the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum's "Feeding Desire: Design and Tools of the Table 1500-2005." She has created custom faux foods for other historical sites, including Thomas Jefferson's Monticello; George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens, Va.; the Historic Odessa Foundation, Delaware; the U.S. Park Service's George Washington Summer White House (Deshler-Morris House), Philadelphia, Pa.; Historic Ships in Baltimore; New York's Lower East Side Tenement Museum; the Carlyle House Historic Park in Old Alexandria, Va.; Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, Mass.; Saratoga National Historical Park, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; and the Telfair Mueum of Art, Savannah, Ga.

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