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Is the Chef at Risk of Being Overdone?

Julia Child in her kitchen, which she donated to the Smithsonian. (Smithsonian Institution)

How much Julia Child is too much?

Suddenly, the late American chef is everywhere -- thanks to "Julie & Julia," the upcoming Hollywood movie about her life in France and the blogger, Julie Powell, who attempted every recipe in Child's best-selling cookbook. Michelle Obama previewed the film at the White House with Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Nora Ephron; Food Network plugged it; friends and colleagues weighed in on the cinematic portrayal in The Post's Food section.

And now, the Smithsonian is getting in on the promotional blitz.

The recently acquired copper pot and cast-iron pan collection, which completes the Smithsonian's display of Child's actual kitchen. (Roxanne Roberts/The Washington Post)

Wednesday morning, the National Museum of American History unveiled a wall of Child's pots, completing her famous kitchen. The museum acquired the entire contents of the Cambridge, Mass., kitchen in 2001 -- except for Child's French Dehillerin copper pots and cast-iron pans, on loan to a Napa Valley culinary institute. Her estate gave the Smithsonian the missing items, which went on display just in time for ... whaddya know, the movie opening.

Ephron showed up later in the day with a script, photos and a costume from the shoot. It's the first time the museum has accepted items from a movie that -- far from being "history" -- hasn't even opened; past donations (from "Seinfeld," "Die Hard," "Rocky") came from proven pop-culture hits.

Curator Dwight Bowers told us the museum actually asked for the movie artifacts, which will become part of the entertainment collection: "We wanted to document a character who made the transition from fact to fiction." Child's kitchen is one of the most popular exhibits; museum officials worked closely with the film's set designers to re-create it for the final scene.

But free publicity has limits. Bowers said the movie memorabilia won't be displayed for "at least" two years. "We're giving it some time."

By The Reliable Source  |  July 30, 2009; 1:02 AM ET
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