New Batavia Depot Museum exhibit explores how Batavians got their food

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, grocery store employees were recognized as essential workers who helped people get food when everything else shut down, leading to a greater appreciation for their role in the food supply chain.

Batavia Depot Museum’s new exhibit, “Markets and Meals,” explores the essential role of grocers, butchers and bakers in Batavia from the early days of general stores to today’s modern supermarkets.

Through intriguing artifacts, an interactive play space, photos and stories, visitors will learn how Batavia’s food suppliers have evolved over the years. The exhibit will also touch on ways Batavians, grocers and neighbors alike, have helped the community weather times of need.

Get a first look at the exhibit on opening night, on Friday, March 1, from 6-8 p.m. at the Batavia Depot Museum, 155 Houston St. Light refreshments will be served. The exhibit runs through July 21.

“Markets and Meals” also offers an interactive component for children to get a hands-on look on how food gets on the table.

Taking inspiration from a 1936 Louise White School classroom, Museum Curator Jessica Meis wanted to build a space in the museum for young visitors to learn through play about where their food comes from and how it gets to the table. This interactive area includes not only a play store, but information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture about choosing a nutritious and balanced plate.

Food pantries have played a role in ensuring Batavians had food on the table. “Markets and Meals,” opening March 1 at Batavia Depot Museum, chronicles how residents have helped each other in times of need. Courtesy of Batavia Historical Society

“Usually, the museum’s exhibits are more about looking, not touching, but for this exhibit, we’re very excited to be able to incorporate a hands-on play experience for our younger visitors,” said Museum Director Kate Garrett.

In this space, children and their guardians will be able to play with ideas of growing, shopping, and sharing that bring the historical experiences and compassionate culture of Batavia to life.

Learn more about how Batavians shopped for food at the Batavia Depot Museum's new exhibit, “Markets and Meals,” opening March 1. Courtesy of Batavia Historical Society

Batavia Depot Museum is open from 2 to 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

For more information on programs and events, call (630) 879-5235 or visit

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