Walter Mencken 2:37 p.m., March 1
"Feast" to debut at New Children's Museum in the fall
New exhibition will teach "the art of playing with your food" and offer hungry patrons a chance to dine like *Le Roi Soleil* (for a price, of course).
The New Children’s Museum changes exhibits once every two years. New exhibits spend over a year in development and it takes more than a month of full work days--during which the museum has to close--to put up a new installation, but the effect transforms the museum into something new. This kind of all-out recalibration is somewhat unique to the NCM, but it allows the institution to recruit high-calibre artists and run serious and involved programs.
Work has already begun on the new exhibit at the NCM, which will open in October. The museum’s directors had the good sense to give it the same name as the Reader’s food blog: “Feast!” Subtitled “The Art of Playing With Your Food,” Feast will turn the NCM into a gastronomy playground. None of the exhibits will be edible per se, but they will revolve around the edible as such.
Work progresses daily on a chicken coop, which will allow visitors to track egg production from the museum’s in-house poultry.
Nina Waisman’s “Grove” will create a playground in the form of an orange grove, with hanging ropes and monkey bars turning citrus fruits into a juicy gymnasium. Kids playing in the exhibit, along with any playful adults, will get the chance to learn about the citrus industry, especially the staggering mechanics and cost of the fruit’s transportation from growing areas to every corner of the country and beyond.
But, why an exhibit based on food?
According to Tomoko Kuta, director of exhibitions, food has been at the center of art for as long as art has been a thing. From cave paintings of delicious buffalo hunts, to Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s vegetal grotesques, to countless scenes of literary gourmandise, food has had its place in art.
From another angle, social consciousness surrounding food production and consumption is a high-priority to many. The 21st-century has birthed a culture of food awareness that, while sometimes comical, has done much to change urban attitudes towards food. “Feast” will embody that consciousness with durable public artworks.
“Mol_d,” from biological concept artist Phil Ross, will be fascinating. Part of Ross’ work has involved coercing reishi mushrooms to grow into brick-like forms. The fungus can be cured and treated with shellac to make an organic, insulative building material. It also makes convenient blocks for children to stack into castles, perhaps learning a lesson about alternative material science in the process.
Naturally, such an exhibit comes with a gourmet opening gala. A VIP, 6-course dinner (priced for wealthy patrons at $500/person) will attempt to embody the opulence of Versailles-era France. Although it’s unlikely that pottage and haut-gout pheasant will make the menu, there’s some likelihood of Dom Perignon (champagne production was perfected during the reign of the Sun King!) and perhaps a few touches from La Varenne. More modest budgets might opt for the early-opening party ($150), which is going to have local chefs devise food and drink pairings that augment the various parts of the new exhibition. At least for the first night, the kids can stay home.