Night Road

New England Cuisine at the Museum

Don't break out your lobster bibs quite yet! No, we are not offering a grand buffet of New England cooking classics. However, we have the next best thing in store for you.

Fitzgerald&Stavely On Saturday, May 28, at 2 PM there will be a really fun Lowell Lecture that you won't want to miss. Kathleen Fitzgerald and Keith Stavely will relate the tale of "Pressed Heads, Pottages, and Pippin Tarts: The Surprising Story Behind a Typical Diner Meal." Authors of Northern Hospitality: Cooking by the Book in New England (2011) and America’s Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking (2004), Stavely and Fitzgerald will treat us to a culinary tour that traces the precursors of franks and beans and apple pie, as well as other traditional New England foods. Their talk will be illustrated with images of some of the foods they have prepared and served in their home.

The author team has a wealth of experience as speakers, having presented at international conferences, at numerous historical societies, libraries, and museums, and to a variety of community and professional groups. Through lively presentations and sprightly give-and-take with their audiences, they bring the hidden history of New England foodways to light, along the way showing how a region's food practices can illuminate its broader social and cultural history.

Nothern-hospitality-210 Stavely is a writer and scholar whose interest in the Puritan influence on American and English culture has resulted in a number of critically-esteemed books and articles. He has been a Guggenheim and American Council of Learned Societies fellow and a winner of the Modern Language Association Prize for Independent Scholars. Fitzgerald worked for five years as a college chaplain and for eight years as a coordinator of a soup kitchen. Except for one brief stint in an academic library in Ohio, she has worked for over twenty years as a public librarian in urban settings in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She is currently a librarian at the Newport Public Library.

This free public lecture is funded by the Lowell Institute and complements the exhibition Night Road: Photographs of Diners by John D. Woolf. After the lecture, please join us for a book signing. Copies of both Northern Hospitality and America’s Founding Food will be available for purchase, thanks to a collaboration with an independent bookshop in Winchester, Book Ends.

Please call the Museum at 781-861-6559 if you have questions about this public program.


Courtesy of Katheleen Fitzgerald and Keith Stavely

Courtesy of Katheleen Fitzgerald and Keith Stavely and the University of Massachusetts Press

Lecture on Classic Diners, Saturday, Nov. 20

If you have ever eaten at a diner--and who hasn’t?--the upcoming Lowell Lecture is for you! We are excited to welcome guest speaker Richard J. S. Gutman, director and curator of the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI.

RJSG at CAM lg_cropped

He will join us on Saturday, November 20 at 2 p.m. for an illustrated presentation entitled “What Is It about Diners? More Than a Meal, That's for Sure!” Mr. Gutman, about whom Yankee magazine said, “Nobody knows more about these classic eateries,” will elaborate on the staying power of the American diner, based on 40 years of eating and research. He has consulted on more than 80 diner restoration projects across the United States and in Europe. The leading authority on the history and architecture of diners, he has published several books on the topic, including American Diner Then and Now (2000) and The Worcester Lunch Car Company (2004). Long-time visitors to the National Heritage Museum may fondly recall two exhibitions he guest-curated with Kellie  Gutman: “American Diner: Then and Now” (1995)  and “Summer Camp” (1998).

This free public lecture is funded by the Lowell Institute. It is held in conjunction with the new exhibition, “Night Road: Photographs of Diners by John D. Woolf."

Photo credit: Courtesy of Richard J.S. Gutman

"Night Road: Photographs by John D. Woolf" Opens Tomorrow

NightRoad_Coney Island Hot Dogs Drawn to diners and other twentieth-century roadside architecture, photographer John Woolf embarked on a project of capturing images of these buildings—especially those in the Northeast industrial corridor from New Jersey to Maine. Twenty of these compelling photographs can be seen in the exhibition “Night Road,” which opens on November 6, 2010 at the Museum. It will be on view through May 31, 2011. Admission is free.

Most of these structures combine signage—both lettered and neon—designed to attract the attention of nocturnal travelers. As Woolf describes, “At night, with a mixture of the road’s various artificial light sources, interior lights shining through highly visible windows, and eye-catching, garish neon signs, these buildings and their surroundings suggest a film-noir movie set photographed in Technicolor.”

Using a digital camera and making multiple exposures for each light source and then combining them together in software, Woolf has tried to recreate the lurid color and dramatic lighting of these roadside structures. Digital photography enables this process, which would not be possible with a traditional film camera.

NightRoad_Rosebud Diner The popular architectural treasures highlighted in the photos date from an era when commercial  buildings were more playful and symbolic than they are today. In the mid-1900s, builders constructed even common structures with a high level of craftsmanship and imagination. Some of these relics remain, and Woolf has captured them before they fade away.

The Museum is operating on its winter hours schedule and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am - 4:30pm

 Leading Diner Authority Richard J. S. Gutman to Speak on November 20 at 2 pm

In conjunction with "Night Road," Richard J. S. Gutman, the leading authority on New England diner culture, will present the lecture “What Is It About Diners? More Than a Meal, That’s for Sure” on Saturday, November 20, 2 pm. One of the Museum’s most popular speakers, Mr. Gutman will draw on his more than 40 years of diner eating and scholarly research to elaborate on the staying power of this enduring American classic. Admission is free, made possible by the Lowell Institute.

Richard_Gutman Richard Gutman is director of the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, and curator of their ongoing exhibition on the history of the American diner. Much of the collection, from photos and menus to stools and floor tile, is on loan from Mr. Gutman, who has been acquiring diner memorabilia since 1970. He is the recognized historian on the subject of diners, and popularized them through lectures, articles, exhibitions, and the publication of books on the subject, including American Diner (New York: Harper & Row, 1979) and American Diner Then and Now (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000; New York: HarperCollins, 1993). He and his wife Kellie were guest curators of two highly popular exhibitions at the Museum: “American Diner: Then and Now” and “Summer Camp.”

Coney Island Hot Dogs, Worcester, MA. Photographed 2009.

Rosebud Diner, Somerville, MA. Photographed 2009.

Richard J. S. Gutman