Monday, January 21, 2013

American Museum of Natural History, NYC: Our Global Kitchen - it's all about food

American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, New York

By Jane Feehan

I could not leave New York City without stopping by the American Museum of Natural History, the queen of museums. It was like stepping back into history – my history. It was a frequent field trip destination for my grade school in New Jersey.

Much appeared the same at this museum founded in 1869 (President Ulysses S. Grant laid the first stone in 1874), starting with the gigantic prehistoric elephants stationed near the entrance of the first exhibit. But there have been many additions. The Hayden Big Bang Theater presented a nifty four-minute video projected on to a sunken, circular screen introducing the Rose Center for Earth and Space and its examination of universe and earth through time.

There’s so much to see here – and so many toddlers, and babies in strollers. Why do parents drag young kids to these places? Children younger than seven don’t appreciate - or understand - these exhibits.

I sought refuge from the parade of strollers in an exhibit less traveled and paid an additional $6 to see Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture ( This was worth the trip – and the extra money. It’s a terrific exhibit featuring: how food is grown around the globe; how it’s traded and shipped (did you know 30 percent of the world’s food is destroyed in transit?); how it’s cooked in different countries; and the central place food takes in cultural celebrations. Tastings are provided by Whole Foods Markets.  There’s also an interesting collection of international cook books, edible plants grown hydroponically, spices, and a table movie showing chefs’ hands creating a variety of familiar dishes (more boys at this table than girls).

Our Global Kitchen also includes food in history: ancient irrigation systems, spices along Asia’s Silk Road, and models of crops grown hundreds of years ago. Lastly, the exhibit examines future food sources and the role some may play in eliminating world hunger. Enough food can be grown to feed the world now, the museum claims, but politics and natural disasters are among the causes that undermine the ability to feed all. Food for thought …

General admission tickets to the museum run $19, special exhibits additional. If traveling by subway take the B line during weekdays and the C train on weekends. The 81st street subway exit features wall/tile art apropos of the museum. There are several restaurants and gift shops in the building as well as  restaurants in the neighborhood.

For transit directions, visit:

Tags: NYC museums, food exhibits, food history, natural history, prehistoric food,natural history, things to do in New York City


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