Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, bake-offs and reggae: The Chocolate Museum is one

By Ben Miller | 25 February 2014

London's Chocolate Museum is about to celebrate a year of cocoa-inspired history and launch an exhibition on slavery

A photo of three people eating chocolate
The Chocolate Museum is a year old© Courtesy The Chocolate Museum
At a Brixton museum dedicated to an almost universally popular subject, the decision by organisers to mark their first anniversary with a chocolatier workshop, screening of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Great Chocolate Bake Off and live chocolate sculpture sounds a sweet one.

There’s a thoughtful curatorial tie-in: Cocoa and Slavery History, a new exhibition, explores the relationship between the chocolate industry and oppression, from the trading of Africans in the plantations of the 1800s to the exploitation of modern workers. This is, as Art Director and Curator Alessandra Ferrini points out, the “darker side” of chocolate – an issue which planners never had any designs on swerving.

“Throughout the year we have had great feedback,” she says, adding that the team – led by Isabelle Alaya, who founded the museum in March 2013 and will lead the chocolate demonstrations – are “proud” and “very pleased” with their work so far.

“In particular, we have been working with many primary schools, promoting awareness about quality chocolate and its history, which exactly fullfills our mission.

“We will start early and finish late, ending the day with food, drinks and some very talented DJs. In this way, we hope to share our celebrations with as many people as possible and make it a memorable day.”

The musical mastermind behind the party is Matchette, a drum and bass DJ who ended last year playing to 5,000 people as part of a warehouse rave alongside the likes of Mampi Swift and DJ Hype.

“We will spend the evening on the sound of artists like Bob Marley and Fela Kuti, who have been fighting against slavery and racism,” explains Ferrini, whose permanent collection traces the development of major British brands, memorabilia and facts about confectionary consumption.

“She will be inviting London-based reggae DJs playing strictly on vinyl records, ending The Chocolate Museum’s celebrations at the sound of reggae - and some drum and bass - to give praise to the history of our Brixton neighbourhood.

“Our museum is still evolving. We’re inviting everyone to see how it has been changing throughout the year. Expect a few surprises.”

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of an ornate cup with a painting of two people in a historic setting on its side
© Courtesy Chocolate Museum
A photo of various artefacts related to chocolate and its production
© Courtesy Chocolate Museum
A photo of various artefacts related to chocolate and its production
© Courtesy Chocolate Museum
A photo of a museum containing cases and posters relating to chocolate and its use
© Courtesy Chocolate Museum
A photo of a museum case full of pots and ornaments
© Courtesy Chocolate Museum
A photo of a sculpture of a woman made out of chocolate surrounded by coins and beans
© Courtesy Chocolate Museum
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