Wegmans enters American history at Smithsonian

Wegmans Wonderplace open at Smithsonian National Museum of American History. (Credit: Chance Seales)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Popular grocery store chain Wegmans celebrated its upcoming 100th birthday in grand style at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The food market magnates cut the ribbon for the Wegmans Wonderplace on Wednesday at the National Museum of American History.

Young historian explore a replica of Julia Child's kitchen in Wegmans Wonderplace. (Credit: Chance Seales)
Young historian explore a replica of Julia Child’s kitchen in Wegmans Wonderplace. (Credit: Chance Seales)

Healthy eating and American history are on the menu at the $1.5 million exhibit, aimed at children six and younger. It boasts replicas of Julia Child’s kitchen, an organic garden, a farm stand and even a tugboat.

Danny Wegman, CEO of the grocery chain, and his daughters were joined by Smithsonian brass and Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y) and Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) to do the honors.

“We’re thrilled to be part of the Smithsonian because so many young people come through it, and we think it’s going to help make a difference in this world,” beamed Wegman.

“I introduce myself as the No. 1 fan of Wegmans,” exclaimed Rep. Salughter, who grew up in the city where the first Wegmans store was founded.

The congresswoman heaped praise on the family-owned company for its sparkling 1,700 square foot exhibit, but even more so for its commitment to helping young people further their education and becoming “every neighborhood’s town square.”

“Nobody in my family will go to Wegmans with me anymore because I do 20 pieces of case work between the front door and the meat department,” joked Slaughter.

Laura Sanborn reads to son Chase, 3, at Smithsonian's Wegmans Wonderplace grand opening. (Credit: Chance Seales)
Laura Sanborn reads to son Chase, 3, at Smithsonian’s Wegmans Wonderplace grand opening. (Credit: Chance Seales)

Given its historic home, Wegmans Wonderland incorporates real artifacts from American history to encourage learning as tiny historians work their way through the culinary playground.

“It’s just amazing and I feel like they took the kids’ awe and wonder and put little things that kids would imagine in here,” said Laura Sanborn, of Warrenton, Va., who brought her 3-year-old son Chase to the opening.

Chase was most impressed by the book nook and Elmo, who he calls “Elbow.”

The busiest spot was Julia Child’s kitchen, complete with bowls and spatulas. And rightfully so, says Wegman, “The word today is farm-to-table; there’s no one better to set a table than Julia Child.”

The Wegmans Wonderland exhibit is now open to the public, free of charge.

Follow Chance Seales on Twitter @ChanceSeales.

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