On October 2nd, 2015, after months of preparation, we finally celebrated the opening of our touring Cake! Exhibition at the Bakery Museum in Veurne, Belgium.
Opened with speeches by Celine Mouton, councillor for tourism in Veurne and Liesbeth Inghelram, curator of the Bakery Museum Veurne, visitors were able to learn more about the Bakery Museum, its cultural importance, and obviously, about cake.
To get a taste of the scope of the exhibition, an overview of the Flemish history of cake was given by Dr. Greet Draye from Centre for Agricultural History, coordinator for the exhibition and partner institution within Europeana Food and Drink:
The History of Cake
Until the end of the nineteenth century, cake was a luxury product. Because everything that made cake sweet, especially sugar, but also native and exotic fruits and chocolate, were expensive. Only the nobility and the upper middle class could afford cakes for special occasions or celebrations. At the end of the nineteenth century cakes started to appear slowly on tables of ordinary people as well. But only if there was a specific occasion, it was not present at every feast. Although sugar was more affordable then, it still remained expensive.
From the 1920s onwards, there were no (religious) festivals or special occasions without cake anymore: birthdays, baptisms, communion or spring festivals, weddings, funerals, Easter-, Epiphany‑ or Ash Wednesday celebrations, carnivals, and obviously Christmas … Several of those occasions along with their specific cakes are presented in the exhibition.
Already at the end of the nineteenth century, a long time before cake came within everyone’s reach, girls were taught cake baking in domestic science schools. A cake would keep the husband and the children at home on Sunday. It also would keep them away from the cafe or other perditions.
In a government report from 1886 could be read: ‘Think of the role that cake will play on Sundays, when the family, at the end of the meal, is gathered around the table, or the favourable impact cake has on the children during the week. It is clear then that there is no question of loss of time! “
Tour Dates & Locations
The exhibition tells the history and traditions of Cake in 10 panels. Subjects like Weddings, Birthdays, the harvest and others highlight the variety of occasions where cake plays a role.
After the Bakery Museum in Veurne, the touring exhibition will be displayed at other venues all over Flanders:
- 2nd October – 30th November 2015 – Bakkerijmuseum, Veurne
- 8th – 15th February 2016 (half term) – Bakkerijmuseum, Veurne
- 22nd February – 10th March 2016 – Library Voeren, Voeren
- 12th – 20th March 2016 – VCCV Het Veltman Huis, Sint-Martens-Voeren
- 22th March – 20th April 2016 – Keizerzaal Abdijsite Sint-Truiden, Sint-Truiden
- 25th April – 31th May 2016 – Woonzorgcentrum Edouard Remy, Leuven
The exhibition is part of a series of products developed by Europeana Food and Drink. The exhibitions were developed by project partners Centre for Agrarian History and Royal Museums of Art and History. Besides the travelling exhibition, we also developed a virtual exhibition on the Cake theme. Find out more here.
Can’t get enough of cake? Indulge in traditional cake specialties and share your own recipes at the Week of Taste in Belgium.
By Chris Vastenhoud, Greet Draye and Angelika Leitner