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Wegmans ascending from regional institution to Smithsonian Institution

Wegmans Food Markets, an institution in Western New York, will become part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

“Wegmans Wonderplace,” a learning space for children age 6 and younger, is set to open Dec. 9 in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s new Innovation Wing. Its opening will help usher in the supermarket chain’s 100th anniversary in 2016.

Funded by a $1.5 million gift and in-kind donations from Wegmans Food Markets, the 1,700-square-foot space will allow children to “cook” in a kitchen inspired by Julia Child; plant and harvest pretend vegetables and run a farm stand; find owls hiding in a miniature replica of the Smithsonian Castle; and captain a tugboat based on a model in the museum’s collection.

Wegmans also is supporting the museum’s new demonstration kitchen in the Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, where programming begins July 3 with the launch of a weekly cooking demonstration series known as “Food Fridays.” Wegmans will stock the kitchen pantry every week with fresh produce and will provide culinary experts for demonstrations once a month; on July 10, executive chef Llewellyn Correia will showcase summer grilling, with a spotlight on vegetables.

“Wegmans’ mission is to help our customers live healthier, better lives, and that begins with children,” said Danny Wegman, chief executive officer. “Having fun through play is the best way to inspire children to learn.”