Food For Thought

National Museum of Australia
Having recently visited the Culinary Arts Museum in Warwick, Rhode Island, I'm left with the following comparisons between going to a restaurant and going to a museum:

Bread and Circus
The food and the ambience in a restaurant both contribute to the quality of the meal just as content and design are inseparable in the museum environment. As a sensual, physical medium, museum exhibition is outwardly expressive of the institution's mission and plays a vital role in branding. The exhibition experience generates enduring memories... good and bad.

Season to Taste
Learning from something is more engaging than learning about something. With a physical encounter at the heart of the exhibition experience, physical things — objects, artifacts, environments, demonstrations, sounds, and smells — are the most tasty items on the menu.

Eat Dessert First
"Real stuff" is irresistibly attractive and should, when possible, be offered first — at the top of the communication hierarchy. Don't expect people to stop and read graphic panels before moving toward artifacts. When planning an exhibition, think: How can real things provoke ideas? versus What idea can be followed up by some real thing? The subtle difference can be sweet.

Celebrity never hurts
The rarest...
The first...
The best example of...
The largest...
Advertise these; the "e-s-t" aspects of your exhibition program. Like celebrity-owned restaurants and Hollywood chefs, people are drawn to the popular and famous.