The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum delves into its extensive cupboard for the first time and sets the table with over 500 years of dining designs.

You may assume, as the forthright saying goes, that a fork is a fork is a fork. But sit down at the table of culinary history and you'll quickly discover that cutlery -from 17th century sculpted coral spoons and 19th century beveled macaroni ladles to 1970s plastic ergonomic picnic sets - has elevated the simple quest for nourishment to a defining social art. Diving into their permanent collection of American and European flatware, cutlery and esoteric table devices for the first time, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum serves up a scrumptious study into the art of dining with their exhibition, 'Feeding Desire: Design and the Tools of the Table.' Housed in the landmark Andrew Carnegie mansion, the show unfolds in the millionaire's former dining room. Exploring over 500 years of eating etiquette via transformative dining designs, the exhibition covers the culture of dining from the Renaissance to present day. Did you know, for example, that prior to the late 17th century, eating utensils - then prized possessions of high society - were toted during travels in body-hugging holsters? Or that silver potato chip ladles were all the range at swank dinner parties in the 19th century? Exploring the rituals of eating, entertainment, and socializing through those artful extensions of our hands, 'Feeding Desire' reveals how cutlery has influenced everything from food, fashion and design to mobility, entertainment and hygiene.

Feeding Desire: Design and the Tools of the Table, 1500-2005
May 5 through October 29, 2006
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
2 East 91st Street, NYC
Tel. +1 212 849 8400