New exhibit, ‘Someone’s in the Kitchen,’ opens in Belle Fourche 

A photo of kitchen utensils is a backdrop for a red and white checkered apron covered with artifacts from the “Someone’s In the Kitchen,” exhibit. The cookbook pictured here is from the children’s table. Courtesy photo

BELLE FOURCHE — The Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center opened a new temporary exhibit Saturday, “Someone’s in the Kitchen,” and it features the history of cooking, food, utensils and appliances, kitchens, and cookbooks. 

Storyboards include the history of cutlery, the development of pots and pans, the rise of refrigeration, and those foods, like the tomato, that have been particularly pivotal in the evolution of cooking. There are also humorous storyboards on offbeat topics like “food fraud,” and “what was on the menu in the Middle Ages.” 

Visuals for the exhibit include pictures of vintage kitchens, retro utensils and photos of famous chefs. There is also an array of Betty Crocker images, from her first appearance in 1936 to today.  

The exhibit’s design scheme is a red and white-checkered pattern, similar to the tablecloths that were popular in mid-20th century. Collections Archivist Rebecca Dagel has lined exhibit cases with this fabric and then filled them with kitchen utensils from various eras; some from the museum’s collections and others loaned for the exhibit.

Vintage potato mashers, whisks, meat grinders, rolling pins, eggbeaters, and mixing bowls will be on display. Of special note - a pink ice cube tray from the 1960s, when refrigerators were marketed in eye-popping colors and the ice cube trays within were color-coordinated. 

Museum volunteers and supporters were asked to loan cookbooks for display, as the museum had few in its permanent collections. The response was enthusiastic and visitors will enjoy the assortment.

Cookbooks from local and area organizations as well as rare vintage cookbooks are included as well as unusual ones such as “Half Hours in the Kitchenette,” published in 1925.  There are also beautiful oversized cookbooks featuring recipes from national cuisines throughout the world.

Museum volunteer Bob Williams built a special display case with opens shelves on which to exhibit the many cookbooks, which visitors will be encouraged to examine. 

“Someone’s in the Kitchen” will also offer education and entertainment for younger “chefs.” A children’s table will have several books about cooking and food; a chef’s hat, aprons for girls and boys, coloring sheets and a free take-home packet about cooking and food. There are also some pint-sized metal pots, pans and utensils, for those who wish to do some imaginary cooking. 

Tri-State Assistant Director Jean Maher labored for weeks to pull together the design of the exhibit and the mounting of photos and storyboards. She feels this exhibit will be meaningful to visitors, whether they are cooks or merely those who appreciate the history of cooking.  

“The kitchen is the heart of the home,” said Maher, “and so many of the good things in our life come out of it.”  

“Someone’s in the Kitchen” is in place through May 6 at 415 Fifth Ave., in Belle Fourche.

There is no admission charge to visit the museum or the new exhibit. For more information, call 723-1200.

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