Our Global Kitchen

Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture

New exhibit follows food from farm to fork


Food does more than keep us alive. Meals are the places where families meet, business is conducted and where our senses are stimulated. Food connects us to the land, to cultural heritage, and to each other.

Our new exhibit: Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture, on loan from the American Museum of Natural History, opens to the public on Saturday, September 29, 2018. Our Global Kitchen illuminates the complex and intricate food system that brings what we eat from farm to fork. Craft digital meals in an interactive kitchen. Sit in the dining rooms of famous historical figures. Take a glimpse at the future of food.

“This exhibit asks us to renew our appreciation for how we grow and gather our food,” said Don Luce, Curator of Exhibits. “We hope visitors will look at something they all do every day—eat—and think about centuries of farmers and cooks that shaped our food, global celebrations and traditions, and how the natural environment supports the foods we rely on.”

Today’s global food economy also binds us to the 1 billion people working in agriculture—from a rice farmer in Vietnam and an oyster farmer in France to researchers in our own backyard at the University of Minnesota. In this exhibit, visitors will experience the intersection of science, culture and health—and consider some of the most challenging issues of our time.

“Cooking is an art, and the challenge today is to make it as healthy and sustainable as it is delicious and beautiful,” said Holly Menninger, Director of Public Engagement and Science Learning. “Questions about the future of food are presented so well in the exhibit, and we are excited to invite U of M experts and local communities together to continue exploring where we go from here.”

Exhibit Highlights

  • A life-size re-creation of a 16th-century Aztec marketplace
  • Scent stations featuring vital ingredients used in everything from candy to fish dishes
  • Period rooms depicting the tables of illustrious individuals throughout history: Roman empress Livia Drusilla, Mongolian ruler Kublai Khan and British author Jane Austen
  • An interactive table, where visitors “cook” famous dishes from around the world—Groundnut Soup (West Africa), Tamales (Mexico), Poached Eggs with Hollandaise Sauce (France), and Grilled Salmon and Peach Salad (U.S.).
  • A “waste sculpture” containing the amount of food a U.S. family of four wastes per year: 1,656 pounds
  • Utensils and cookware from around the globe, in addition to a selection of historic, classic, and even humorous cookbooks

Special Events

Food Fest (Oct 6-7)
A family-friendly weekend featuring the latest innovations in food science from harnessing the power of microbes to developing new plant varieties and caring for your home garden. Special guests, food art, hands on science, and food trucks all weekend long. Free with museum admission.

Petri Dish: Super Foods or Super Frauds (Oct 10)
Are coffee, chocolate and eggs friends or foes? Sorting out what’s true and not true in food-related research findings can be tricky. Join us for a special series of curiosity-driven conversations with U of M experts. Tickets $10, includes admission to Our Global Kitchen. Additional events feature foodborne illness (Nov 14) & our ever-evolving diet (Dec 12).

Reclaiming the Culture of Indigenous American Cuisine (Oct 16)
Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota and founder of The Sioux Chef, will share insights about Native American farming, harvesting, cooking techniques, land stewardship and cultural history. The lecture will be followed by a book-signing, along with light refreshments prepared by Sherman’s catering team.