Exhibitions about food have been massively popular in the last decade from the American Museum of Natural History's show "Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature and Culture" to the Getty Center's "Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Food in the Middle Ages and Renaissance." In 2015 the Milan Expo focused on food culture with several exhibitions produced in tandem with museums including the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome. Food, is a hot topic.
These 10 museums are solely devoted to a particular piece of food culture. Some, like the SPAM Museum, are part of a larger corporate mission while others like the burgeoning Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) in New York have a larger mission to tell bring food and drink into a larger cultural conversation.
With a brand new location, the SPAM Museum by Hormel Foods celebrates a food that people either love or despise. While visitors might not actually be able to find out what's inside a can of SPAM, the museum has a lot of memorabilia on display, much of it related to its role in World War II. It was during that time that SPAM was introduced to Hawaii and the Marshall Islands where it is a beloved, almost signature food.
Admission is free
101 3rd Avenue NE, Austin, MN 55912
November-March: Monday: Closed
April-October: Monday-Saturday: 10am-6pm
CLOSED: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Though you may first think of the Swiss when it comes to chocolate, Cologne, Germany has a major museum devoted to the history of chocolate starting with the Mayans, its introduction into Europe and then chocolate in contemporary culture. (The Swiss based Lindt chocolate company is a big contributor.)
The museum offers guided tours, a fabulous café and a store where over 100,000 chocolate products are for sale. Germany Travel Expert Birge Amondson says, "the exhibition texts are in English and German; for kids, there are plenty of interactive activities, but the highlight of the museum is a 10-feet high chocolate fountain: The museum staff will be happy to dip waffles into the warm chocolate to give you a try."
Chocolate Museum Cologne
Adults: € 9,00
Groups from 15 persons: € 8,50
Eligible discount: € 6,50 Groups from 15 persons: € 6,00
Family ticket: € 25,00
Tuesday to Friday: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday/Sunday/bank holidays: 11:00 AM- 7:00 PM
In December 2016 the museum will be open every Monday.
The historic center of Bruges is almost a museum unto itself. Every corner seems to be a straight out of a painting by Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden or Robert Campin. But another treasure of the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a museum devoted to another standard bearer of Belgium—frites or french fries.
The Frietmuseum explains the history of the potato and fries starting on the ground floor with an exhibition about Peru, where potatoes originated more than 10,000 years ago. Then on the first floor, visitors learn the history of frites, how they came to Belgium and became the most beloved national food. There are also medieval potato cellars where visitors get to finally have a taste as it would be impossible to walk around from this museum without finally getting to enjoy a few fries.
Daily from 10 AM to 5 PM (last tickets at 4.15pm)
Closed on 24th, 25th and 31st December, 1st January
We are also closed from 9th till 13th January.
Group (from 15 people, reservation required): 6 €
Students, 65+: 6 €
Children from 6 to 11 years: 5 €
It's not fully up and running, but the Museum of Food & Drink is currently operating as MOFAD Lab in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There they are creating exhibits, hosting public programs, cooking classes, tastings, science demonstrations and seminars. This is all in preparation to make MOFAD the world's first large-scale museum with edible exhibits.
The idea for MOFAD really got off the ground in 2013 when the museum raised $100,000 with a Kickstarter campaign to fund its first exhibition, BOOM! The Puffing Gun and the Rise of Cereal. It's current space is only the next iteration of a much larger plan. Until then, keep on eye on MOFAD's calendar for special exhibitions and public programs. Even without being fully open, MOFAD is already the most robust museum in the world devoted to food and poised to become a major NYC tourist destination.
Museum of Food & Drink (MOFAD)
62 Bayard Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Open Friday to Sunday, noon to 6 PM
Tickets must be purchased in advance via their website
Coming in 2017 to New York, the Museum of Ice Cream isn't giving out too much information, but claims to be "a lick-able, likable, shareable ice cream-centric experience. Interactive highlights from the inaugural iteration in New York include a swimmable rainbow sprinkle pool, edible balloons, an immersive chocolate room and a collaborative massive ice cream sundae."
In the summer of 2016 the Museum of Ice Cream had a pop-up event in Manhattan's Meatpacking District which picked up a lot of buzz on social media and sold an astonishing 30,000 tickets in one day. What's next for the Museum of Ice Cream? It's hard to say, but check Instagram where they have a strong and active presence and following.
If you think a museum devoted to ham sounds frivolous, you've obviously never been to Italy. Italians, especially those from the region of Emilia-Romagna, take prosciutto as a point of cultural pride.
The tradition and techniques for curing pork legs go back to Roman antiquity. The recipe has been fine tuned throughout centuries, but its the location of Parma, specifically the climate, that makes this museum more than just an interesting food story.
Exhibitions explore the history of prosciutto and the unique micro-climate in Parma that imparts the distinct flavor that cannot be attained anywhere else. (Wine blogger Jennifer Martin describes the prosciutto making exhibition on her blog, Vino Travels.) Thankfully the museum visit also includes a tasting.
Museum of Prosciutto and Cured Meats of Parma
Via Bocchialini, 7 Langhirano (PR)
March 1 to 8 December: Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
National Museum of Pasta
National Museum of Pasta
Pasta and Italy are inextricably tied so it makes perfect sense that a pasta museum would be in the capital city of Rome. Pasta has a rich and long history. People on the Italian peninsula were eating noodles long before those stories about Marco Polo bringing spaghetti back from China got started and pasta is also Italy's most famous export.
Objects on display include rolling pins, kneading machines and an explanation of drying techniques. There's an important library for food historians with ancient and modern texts about pasta development and production.
National Museum of Pasta (Currently closed, anticipated to re-open in 2017)
Via Flaminia, 141 00196 Roma
9:30 AM to 5:30 PM
This museum sits under the umbrella of the National Food & Beverage Foundation which includes the Museum of the American Cocktail, the John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library and the Pacific Food & Beverage Museum. Dedicated to "the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and culture of the world through the eyes of the south" the museum must be visited through dedicated events which can be found on their website. In addition to general admission to the museum, there's a rotating calendar of unique events like "Italian-Creole" which is a cooking class focused on the unique Italian-Creole dishes that can only be found in New Orleans along with their stories about the deeper roots of the dishes and their ingredients.
Southern Food and Beverage Museum
Adult - $10.50
Senior -$5.25 Student
Free Ages 11 and under
Open Wednesday through Monday, 11 AM to 5:30 PM
The real reason to visit this quirky museum inside a castle on a farm is for the library which has an extraordinary collection of books about the history of gastronomy. But there is also a collection of over 1200 objects on display related to the history of cooking, displayed by the museum's owners with eccentric wit.
Gourmet Museum and Library
Hermalle-sous-Huy, province of Liège, Belgium
Open year round by appointment only. Call 32 (0)85 31 42 86)
Adults: 6,5 €
Child 5-12 years: 5 €
Groups and schools : 6 €/person with minimum 15 persons
Considered a must-see destination for people visiting Lancaster County, the museum is a trove of objects related to chocolate and candy making history. Visitors can explore over 1,000 moulds, tins, containers, and machines all while breathing in the sweet aroma of chocolate from the open candy kitchen where workers are busy making fresh candy.
Wilbur Chocolate Candy Americana Museum & Candy Store
48 North Broad Street (Route 501) Lititz, PA 17534
Monday through Saturdsay 10 AM to 5 PM