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Power of Stories exhibition now open at Food Museum in Stowmarket, Suffolk as ‘Dining With Heroes’

The record-breaking, award-winning Power of Stories – an exhibition with Marvel Studios’ ground-breaking 2018 blockbuster Black Panther movie at its heart – has been re-imagined for the Food Museum in Stowmarket, Suffolk, in collaboration with members of Suffolk’s Black community.

Coming as Marvel Studios releases the trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (set for release in November) the exhibition is set across two rooms in the museum’s Abbot’s Hall, and boasts three spectacular costumes from the cultural phenomenon that is Marvel Studios’ Black Panther – T’Challa, Shuri and Okoye.

Description: A scene from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever with Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) in light green gown and headdress, on a wooden throne with elephant tusks arching above her, Two female warriors dressed in red and gold outfits stand and sit either side of the throne.

The Oscar-winning costumes, worn by Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright in the ground-breaking 2018 film, promise to impress all – and astonish Marvel fans. They cannot be seen anywhere else in the UK.

Descriptions: The Marvel Studios' Black Panther costumes are mounted on black mannequins on display at Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich (top row), credit: Megan Wilson) and Moyse's Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds (bottom row, credit: Geoff Price).

The costumes are complemented by a display of local stories sourced from the African Caribbean community. Narratives about local Black 'heroes’ are placed on plates on a dining table, laid out as if ready for a meal. The narrative for T’Challa sits at the head of the table. All local heroes have made important contributions to Suffolk – be it through food, community or creativity – and can be discovered at this unique exhibition.

A display case houses items on loan from the community, including a traditional kitchen prayer, a dutch pot and Lovers Rock records which are connected to childhood memories of Caribbean Sunday lunches. All items serve as engaging conversation starters and enable visitors to learn about real-life stories, which have previously gone untold.

Community attendants at the museum will answer questions and share their own cultural stories. They were recruited in partnership with the Food Museum and Aspire Black Suffolk.

Jenny Cousins, Director of the Food Museum, said: "We’re delighted to be part of the tour of Power of Stories, giving more people the opportunity to see the costumes and be inspired to tell and share their own stories. It’s important that our whole community can see themselves represented at the museum and can take part in shaping their own narrative."

Elma Glasgow, founder and co-director of Aspire Black Suffolk, said: “It’s amazing how the Black Panther costumes continue to inspire local people and visitors alike. They also act as a platform for improving representation of the African Caribbean community. Since the original Power of Stories exhibition won the prestigious Museums and Heritage award in May, we’ve noticed a renewed energy around the tour. We encourage everyone to enjoy these stunning outfits and are global icons, and learn from the Food Museum’s approach to sharing cultural stories.”

Jayne Austin, Suffolk County Council’s Museum Development and Partnership Manager, said “It’s brilliant that people across Suffolk have the chance to see the Black Panther costumes in different museum settings this year. To have the opportunity to discover the stories of so many local Black heroes as well makes each incarnation of the exhibition really special.”

The Food Museum is the third leg of the Power of Stories’ tour of museums across Suffolk. The exhibition first opened at Ipswich’s Christchurch Mansion in 2021 - where it broke footfall records despite Covid restrictions, and attracted the Ipswich Museum's most ever diverse audience. The Colchester + Ipswich Museum exhibition was crowned Temporary Exhibition of the Year at the 2022 Museum and Heritage Awards, widely regarded as the ‘Oscars of the museums world’.

The touring exhibition appeared at Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds earlier this year.

Supported by the Association for Suffolk Museums and Arts Council England, each museum is tailoring the exhibition to suit their own venue space, culture and theme.

Dining With Heroes will be at the Food Museum until Sunday 9 October.

A community celebration will take place in the summer, and Dining With Heroes will be open to those attending the Primadonna Festival on 29-31 July.

Power of Stories will then visit the world-renowned cultural institution, Britten Pears Arts at Snape Maltings in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, from October 2022 to January 2023.

Entry to the Food Museum costs £12 for adults, concession (£10), children (ages 4-16) £8, and children (under 4) are free. Admission to the exhibition is included.

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