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Farmland: Food, Justice, and Sovereignty 

What do you know about the food you eat? 

January 18, 2025–July 27, 2025

About the Exhibition

Farmland: Food, Justice, and Sovereignty explores crucial questions of food knowledge, production, scarcity, and consumption. The exhibition examines the origins and effects of food security and food justice against the background of Michigan State University’s 170-year history in food production and consumption. 

Referred to as the “East Lansing Experiment,” the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan (now Michigan State University) sought not only to promote practical education in the agricultural arts but to turn the college into a model farm for the entire nation. It was the first institution for the study of agriculture of its kind, preceding its status as the first land-grant college.  

Starting with the nucleus of agriculture—the farm and its changing relationship to the society it serves—the exhibition provides different perspectives on key themes associated with equitable access to food: the urban-rural divide, issues of labor, race and immigration, the United States’ history of slavery and its continued protectionist import and export policies as well as modes of consumption centered around the commodification of food infrastructure and access to food. 

Farmland combines a selection of archival objects and materials from MSU’s history n dialogue with artists engaging these topics today. It tells a story of Indigenous knowledge, institutional research, farming, seeds, crops, and how food systems can at times be designed to hunger rather than nurture. Focusing heavily on community engagement and collective learning, the exhibition is centered around a widespread network of local stakeholders—agricultural students, farmers, activists, researchers, and historians.  

Farmland: Food, Justice, and Sovereignty is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and co-curated by Teresa Fankhänel, Associate Curator, and  Dalina A. Perdomo Álvarez, Assistant Curator. Lead funding for this exhibition is provided by the Eli and Edythe Broad Endowed Exhibitions Fund. 

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