Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture

American Museum of Natural History

  • What do you think is the exhibition’s main idea or purported purpose?

To present food as an eye opening narrative on a global scale.

  • How well does the exhibition’s design convey that main idea or purpose?

It does a great job of opening your eyes without disgusting you.

  • Decipher and write down the exhibition’s basic content outline as you walk through it.

The exhibition lays out the content using these themes: Grow, Transport, Cook & Taste, Eat, Celebrate. They are presented in a separate but flowing sequence.

  • How do you think the designers interpreted the content you outlined?

I love that the exhibit started with the plates graphics and with a video. I usually hate theaters in exhibits but this one was successful because It was a perfect introduction to the lessons the viewer could expect to learn throughout the exhibit. Also, the chairs were so inviting I wanted to sit down for just a second then I got sucked into the nicely photo-documented video. The designers took care to tell a linear story without being too focused on a linear narrative. The flow worked well.

  • Did the design contribute to an enhanced perspective on the topic of the exhibition?  Did the exhibition reveal new information or insights for you? Were you incented to learn more afterward?

The design broke down the content into chunks- which helps me in comprehension. I enjoy exhibitions that slowly reveal information and do not have competing focus points. The linear path was very successful and helped me focus on each topic presented. I learned about other cultures and picked up many facts that I did not know. I would love to see something related to MY real life, for example, I could pick a food I eat regularly and it would show where it comes from. I believe the interactives in the transport section may have touched on this, but I didn’t get to play with them myself. It would be nice to offer this as an online experience to keep connecting with the exhibit.

  • What was the exhibition’s “look & feel” and how did it contribute to the main ideas or purpose of the exhibition?

I really liked the typography in this exhibit. I felt that it was fun but not childish. The text, however much, had hierarchal placement to allow a skimmer to find the most important parts, and the text was broken up with pictures and 3D objects. The colors chosen were a nice balance between playful childish colors and toned down hearty tones that you may find at Panera or Starbucks.

  • How would you characterize the contributions of 3D, graphic, media, and lighting design? Were any of these design elements outstanding–or lacking?

Like I said, I really enjoyed the typography and graphic design in this exhibition. The few things that I would have liked to have seen done better were the sound and covering the cases. In many of the rooms, I found the sound to be distracting. I wish it was either quieter or more focused (or directed at a certain spot) so that it would not distract from the exhibit next to it. I also was a bit turned off at the style of the cases that the interactive monitors were housed in. They didn’t follow the look and feel of the exhibit. I found it astonishing that a custom built bench was made to perfection in the last room, but the interactive table base was simply a locker cabinet. I wish that all the cabinets were outfitted with graphic panels- if not simply the vector-wallpaper like pattern used elsewhere in the exhibit. (or a tablecloth?)

  • How might you have approached interpreting the content differently through the design of this exhibition?

The content was organized nicely. The only thing I would do was make the diorama in the second room smaller and spend a bit more time on transportation. However beautiful, the diorama pulled too much focus from the content.

  • How would you characterize the role of design in this institution, based on this exhibition?

This exhibition changed my view of AMNH. I found the design to be much more contemporary than the rest of the museum. The linear tight space made the exhibit feel more experiential and less passive like some of the more permanent, larger exhibits.

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