By Max Lent
Discovering museum food was unintentional. The discovery was the
result of being married to an art historian for more than 30 years.
During that time we visited nearly every major museum in the world--a
couple of times. Although I enjoy art and make it a point to fully
explore museums I visit, my attention span is much shorter than my wife,
Tina. It took dozens of museum visits over several years in several
countries for me to learn how to adapt to being stranded in a museum for
hours at a time. Sitting on the uncomfortable benches found in museums
is only good for about a quarter hour before back muscles crave a backrest.
During my bench sitting days, I tried to occupy myself by watching people.
How much time one can watch people varies from person to person. My
tolerance is now about half an hour. It's about the same for museum
guards who watch the people watchers. After a while they notice my
looking at every attractive women passing through the gallery and assume
that, just perhaps, I am not seriously interested in the art. Walking
from gallery to gallery like a retiree doing laps at malls also attracts the
attention of guards after several laps. The museum shops are fun and
can burn some time, but not enough time to compensate for having a scholar
as a spouse.
Over time, I found myself hanging out in museum cafeterias,
cafes, and restaurants to pass the time. Art types are allowed to take
hours to consume a beverage if they are deep in thought reading or writing.
At last, I found a place to wile away the hours. The next question was
what would I do while I sat at the table. I tried bringing books and
magazines, but even they became boring after a while. It wasn't until
I was able to bring along a personal digital assistant (PDA) and a keyboard
that I finally found the answer I was looking for. Museum cafes are
great places to write. At first, I used the time to keep my travel
journal up to date. Then it occurred to me that I was sitting in a
great topic, the museum cafes.
Museum food varies greatly from museum to museum. The quality can
range from completely pre-packaged mystery meat sandwiches to some of the
most elegant gourmet food. The ambience can vary from basement
employee break room decor to grandly elegant.
"Serve Up Heaps of Revenue" Published on the member Web site of
Museum Store Association.
April, 2002. This article covers the following topics:
- What museums can do to generate more revenue through their food
- The expectations of museum food service customers
- How museum food services add value to the museum experience
- How museum food service can become integrated with exhibits
- And much more
- American Visionary Art Museum
- New York City
- American Folk Art Museum
- Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
- Guggenheim Museum
- Metropolitan Museum of Art