“Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture,” the newest special exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, delves into the complex and infinitely interesting subject of food and its role in human culture. The food system encompasses everything from history to science to culture, and is beautifully curated and presented in this exhibition.
Our Global Kitchen – Growing and Transporting Food
The displays of regional cultural specialties, and the comparisons of different growing and food production techniques from around the world are very well done. Urban and rural farming methods, old and new, are discussed, and we found it really illuminating. So much energy is spent getting food from farm to table, and you see the different solutions and their pros and cons clearly demonstrated.
The interactive and static stations show everything from growing to transporting food, to just how much food a typical American family wastes per year alongside charts tracking countries around the world and comparing the availability and security of their respective food systems. The presentation clearly demonstrates that food justice and food security is not something much of the world can count on, and that we in the United States are incredibly fortunate.
Cooking and Eating Food in the Global Kitchen
There is also a working kitchen (a first for the museum) that will feature different live cooking demos on everything from apples to chocolate to bread presented by local chefs, farmers and nutrition experts. The schedule and information about each kitchen presentation is available on the AMNH website. Yes, tasting and sampling is encouraged!
Food fiends will love it all. My 11-year-old attended the press preview with me, and had a great time with all the interactive stations. Her favorite was the virtual cooking table that takes you through the steps to make hollandaise sauce with poached eggs, and tamales, among other delights.
Food’s Past and Future
There is something for everyone here – history and culture buffs will love the dioramas of famous historical figures and ancient peoples showing how they enjoyed food. You also get to see and compare famous figures and what they ate. From Roman empress, Livia Drusilla:
To the “moveable feast” of Kublai Khan:
To the Regency dining room of Jane Austen, and more:
Check out athlete Michael Phelps’ typical training intake and compare that to 5000-year-old man Otzi’s last meal!
You also get a peek at the future of food. Geeks and science fans will love the presentations of the Windowfarms and alternative growing methods for urban farming like this really cool biome concept.
Join In Our Global Kitchen’s Celebration of Food and Culture
Our Global Kitchen is also reaching out beyond the walls of the museum into social media, and you are encouraged to join in by sharing your favorite food memories, or great meals, or anything food and celebration related on Instagram using the hashtag #CelebrateFood, and it may even show up in the exhibition, or on the AMNH.org website.
Global Kitchen Educator Resources
The AMNH website lists a number of learning extensions to enrich a family visit to Our Global Kitchen:
- Article: Global Grocery
- Activity: Taste a Smell Test
- Article: The Quest for the Perfect Tomato
- Science Bulletin: Little Farmers
- Activity: Vietnam Educator’s Guide Activity: Rice
Go See It:
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Open daily from 10 am – 5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture runs from November 17, 2012 through August 11, 2013 Admission for members is free, non-member admission to the special exhibit is $22 adults, $18 students and seniors, $12 children
Pro tip: Basic family membership is only $125 and is 100% tax deductible, which makes it a real bargain. The benefits are terrific: free general admission and free admission to all special exhibitions, seasonal IMAX, and seasonal live animal shows for one or two adults and up to four children. You also get discounts to other IMAX and live animal shows, as well as exclusive invitations to exhibition previews – and lots more. Membership is a great gift idea for the whole family!
Looking for more fun things to do with kids in New York City? See our New York City Guide.
Gina Martin | lives in Coxsackie NY with her husband, their two children, and an assortment of Rottweilers and cats. Gina has been a homeschooling parent since 2003, and is also proud parent of a Tech Valley High School student. Gina is the creator of ModSchooler, her blog about 21st -century learning and fun, and is a contributor to From Scratch Club writing on food and food policy. As lifelong learners, Gina and her tween and teen kids like to go off the beaten path to explore quirky travel destinations, unusual cuisine, and all things geeky. Email: GinaMartin@AlbanyKid.com, twitter: @GinaMartinBlogs