Museum of East Anglian Life officially changes name to Food Museum

A popular Suffolk museum has announced its new name

A popular Suffolk museum has announced its new name - Credit: Food Museum

The Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket has confirmed it has officially adopted its new name.

The centre, which celebrates everything about living in the East of England, said it is filling a gap in becoming the first permanent museum focused on food in the UK, has confirmed its new name is the Food Museum. 

Plans to change the name of the museum were first formulated back in 2018

Museum director Jenny Cousins said: "The museum has existed for 55 years and the change is motivated by a recognition that as our audiences have changed, so should we.

"We are excited by the possibilities that the new direction opens up.

Museum of East Anglian Life director Jenny Cousins

Food Museum director Jenny Cousins - Credit: Gregg Brown

"Everybody eats, and therefore everyone can relate to food in some way.

"We think that the potential is huge.

"It is also in line with the heritage that we already care for – East Anglia was known as ‘Britain’s Breadbasket’.

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"We want to honour the journey that the museum has already made and the contributions of generations of volunteers, staff and supporters.

"Local heritage remains a priority – our travelling exhibition ‘Food Stories’ is visiting 20 villages in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex this year to collect local dialect, memories and recipes, starting at the end of this month."

The museum's name change sparked controversy as a petition called 'Save the Museum of East Anglian Life' was set up by residents who were concerned it would "mean the loss of the only institution established to celebrate and preserve East Anglian culture, heritage, and history".

The first annual exhibition in a new exhibition space is a collaboration with young curator-artist collective ‘Our Isles’ to explore the intersection between farming and nature through hedgerows.

This will open at the end of June, along with the relaunch of the museum café in summer and the completion of a watermill restoration to working order and a sculpture trail along the river.

Councillor Gerard Brewster, cabinet member for economic growth at Mid Suffolk District Council, said: "Mid Suffolk District Council supports the overall development of the museum’s masterplan and recognises its importance as a key cultural and tourism attraction for Suffolk and beyond.

"We will continue to support the museum in every aspect we can to ensure its long-term success and the contribution it makes to the cultural sector in attracting visitors to the region."