BiographyMichelle Moon is Director of Interpretation and Evaluation at the Newark Museum. Recognized for her work on programming and audience engagement, she frequently writes and presents on the relationship between museum interpretation and civic issues. After earning an undergraduate degree in education from Connecticut College, Moon transitioned to leadership in museum education, working in programs and interpretation at major historic sites and interdisciplinary museums. At Mystic Seaport (Mystic, CT), she led the experiential learning program Ship to Shore and developed public programm curricula. She went on to serve as Director of Education at Strawbery Banke Museum (Portsmouth, NH), where she produced the museum's first multigenerational exhibit, supervised interpretation, and refreshed food history interpretation sitewide, Before joining the Newark museum, she launched an adult programming team at the Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, MA), addressing previously underserved audience sectors including young adults, creative leaders, and members of the diverse local community. She has served as interpretive lead on more than 15 major exhibitions of art, culture, and history, including Native Fashion Now, Turner and the Sea, Impressionists on the Water, and Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art. In 2016, Moon completed a Master's degree with honors in Museum Studies at the Harvard Extension School, focusing on interpretive communication and the civic role of museums. She is the author of Interpreting Food at Museums and Historic Sites (Rowman &;Littlfeield, 2015) and Public History and the Food Movement: Adding the Missing Ingredient (Routledge, 2017).
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
My career uniquely combines deep interest in food studies with expertise on the design of museum programs and effective interpretive communication. Both are driven by a strong belief in the social value of museums as sites of civic discourse, personal impact, and community connection. My first book, Interpreting Food at Museums and Historic Sites, offered history museums and historic houses a theoretical framework drawn from food studies, aiming to lift food interpretation beyond the show-and-tell and connect it to rich discussions of the way food has operated in history and society. It's followed by this second publication, a collaboration with anthropologist Cathy Stanton, which urges museums to develop food interpretation that engages with urgent contemporary issues in food politics and the economy - a project which has the potential to transform museums' institutional sustainability as well as the sustainability of the human and natural communities in which they are embedded.
It won't come as a surprise that I love food - learning its history, tasting, cooking, gardening. I'm an active volunteer with Slow Food USA, part of an international organization that seeks to create food systems that are good, clean, and fair, and to unite people over the production of food, food heritage, and the pleasures of the table. I serve on the Ark of Taste committee, which helps to identify and preserve heritage plant and animal varieties and food production processes that are in danger of disappearing in the globalized food system. When not working on food issues and events, I love to travel and explore, hike, play traditional music, and read.
Published: Aug 31, 2014 by The Public Historian
Authors: Michelle Moon, Cathy Stanton
Subjects: History, Museum and Heritage Studies , Tourism, Hospitality and Events, Environment and Agriculture , Environment and Sustainability
Enthusiasm for ‘‘local food’’ offers public historians a chance to strengthen civic dialogues about place, land and energy use, labor, economy, and health. Moving beyond conventional living history approaches to engage reflexible with food and farm history challenges practitioners to confront politicized real-life food systems, but offers the potential to the reshape both food systems and civically engaged museums, improving economic, institutional, and environmental sustainability.