Porcelain plates, silver cutlery, sparkling glassware – a well-laid dining table is a work of art. But more than this, the changing forms and appearances of all these familiar objects over the last 500 years tell a history of the food we eat and how we eat it. Exploration of the globe brought new foods and drinks to the tables of Europe, requiring new equipment to facilitate their consumption. Shifting social patterns changed when we ate and with whom we ate.
A significant proportion of the NGV’s decorative arts collection consists of objects related to dining and drinking. Art of the Table examines these histories through examples of dining wares drawn from the NGV’s rich collections. The opening is timed to coincide with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival on 28 February 2014 and a number of events are being planned in conjunction with the festival.