by Lisa Grimaldi | March 01, 2005

Edible exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian


Edible exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian

Museum-goers get to feast their eyes on exquisite works of art or fascinating artifacts. Now at a number of cultural institutions around the country, they also can indulge their taste buds with fare that complements these venues’ exhibits. 
    At Washington, D.C.’s National Museum of the American Indian’s Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe, for example, visitors looking for an authentic bite to eat can savor Quahog clam chowder, cream of peanut soup and cedar-planked juniper salmon, all traditional regional specialities of indigenous Americans.
    “Our chefs worked with a Native American food consultant and did a year’s worth of research before the café opened,” says Gina Zimmer, vice president of marketing for New York City-based Restaurant Associates, which manages the eateries for 15 museums in the United States. Mitsitam is just the company’s latest project that uses food to enhance the museum experience.
    “We started three years ago with the baseball exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in New York City,” says Zimmer. “We set up an area of the cafeteria that offered 10 different types of hot dogs served at ballparks around the country.”
    Last month, Restaurant Associates embarked on a more highbrow endeavor: a menu to celebrate the spectacular Salvador Dali exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Among the flamboyant artist’s Iberian favorites available in both the museum’s café and higher-end restaurant during the exhibit: salt cod fritters, Serrano ham-wrapped trout and crème Catalan on an anis pastry crisp. The museum also offers the Dali-themed foods for private events.