BY: JENNY FORD
Food in museums has become all the rage. Just look at Fort York’s historic cooking classes or the ROM’s showcase of Italian food in honour of its Pompeii exhibition. But these are often one-off programs that are staff heavy and make lots of dirty dishes.
So, how do food museums do it? More so, how do food museums capture the intangible experience of enjoying and experiencing food in a museum world that doesn’t usually involve tasting the exhibits?
|Not quite sure we're at this point yet. Source.|
Many food museums follow the traditional artifact and panel set-up that dominates non-food museums. Highlights at The SPAM Museum in St. Austin, Minn, for instance, include a giant SPAM distribution map, and a SPAM game show quiz. Nothing too exciting or out of the ordinary.
So, what does food museum innovation look like? Enter the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) in Brooklyn, which opened its doors after much fundraising in late October. The museum’s inaugural exhibition, Flavor: Making it or Faking it, has interactive smell exhibits with scent stations and pellet machines that allow you to taste food without creating a mess.
|Smell exhibit on the left, pellet machine on the right at MOFAD. Source.|
There are a few other innovative exhibit techniques food museums are trying out. Take the Ramen Museum in Yokohama, Japan. It features a replica of a 1958 Tokyo street, the year instant noodles were invented. Here, you can purchase different types of ramen from nine different stalls.
|The streets of the Ramen Musem. Source.|
There’s also the Currywurst Museum in Berlin, celebrating the local snack of sausage topped with curry sauce. The museum includes smell stations, like MOFAD, an interactive currywurst making game, and an experimental kitchen. Each ticket also comes with a currywurst in a cup. Also, did I mention they have a giant sausage couch?
German video advertising the Currywurst Museum in Berlin. Source.
INTEGRATING WHAT YOU EAT
But these nifty food experiences don’t have to be confined to specialized museums. As fellow Musings contributor, Leah Moncada, has shown over and over again in her column, Historic Kitchen, food is an integrated part of culture.
Should food exhibits, like the ones described, make more of an appearance in more 'mainstream' museums? Should food be in our collections and in our galleries? There’s also the amazing accessibility benefits of incorporating more smells and tastes.
CAN WE TASTE OUR WAY THROUGH OTHER MUSEUM EXHIBITS?