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Help Choose the Next CFM Lecturer!

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

When I gave you an early peek of CFM’s plans for the year, I dropped a hint about the topic of the 2011 CFM lecture. Now I will spill the beans. We are going to address museums and…food!

“Wait,” you may say. “Gaming (Dr. Jane McGonigal) I kinda got. Demographic change (Gregory Rodriguez), sure thing. But what does food have to do with museums?”


Food is a big issue for many of our communities, whether it is fighting obesity, making healthy food accessible and affordable, or working to create a sustainable food system. So, museums have an important role in promoting “food literacy.” We can help our communities explore collective values about food, our bodies, our environment and society; and how we can deliver key messages through exhibits, programs and partnerships.

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Also, many museums feed their visitors. The choices we make about the food we provide in our facilities embody our values and send a powerful message to our audiences. How to our choices about the food we provide align with health, nutrition and sustainability?

And food is a connector. We are grappling with the challenge of reaching diverse audiences museums have not traditionally served. Food can play a key role in fostering relationships, building new audiences, and (tada!) creating financial sustainability for the museum. (Cue great excuse to watch video of the Kogi Taco Truck at the Japanese American National Museum.)

So we need your help finding a witty, engaging, thoughtful speaker from the food world to lob some provocative ideas at museums about how we engage with food and food issues. Could be a chef or restaurateur, could be a policy wonk or activist. Has to be passionate and articulate. (Jane and Gregory set a high bar, didn’t they?) Preferably someone who hasn’t already made several laps around the museum conference circuit—we’d like to offer a platform to a relatively fresh voice.

Two candidates who have been mention are:

  • Mark Bittman, NYT food and food policy columnist and author (How to Cook Everything).
  • Dan Barber, food sustainability activist, chef and owner of several restaurants, including Blue Hill at the nonprofit Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.

This is your lecture, guys. As in past years, the live lecture will be delivered to small audience (in this case, in Pittsburgh, at the Phipps Conservatory and Garden, on Thursday Oct. 13, as part of a bigger symposium on museums, food and community. More on that soon.) But the primary audience will be invited to tune into a broadcast version via the web. So weigh in on who you want to hear! You can use the poll below to register your preference for Bittman v. Barber (foodie smack down!) But please, use the comment section to suggest other names! (And do let me know if you know them personally. Connections are always good!)

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One thought on “Help Choose the Next CFM Lecturer!

  1. I think food is a great theme! I am no sure if this is helpful, but have you heard of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum?

    It popped up on my google alerts last year, I have been dying to go. I'd bet they know a lot about food and cultural influence!

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