There appear to be a huge number of food-related museums in Europe--including the Museum of Bread Culture in Ulm, Germany and DeLocht, the National Museum of National Asparagus and Mushrooms in the Netherlands.
In the Americans, there are the National Apple Museum, in Biglerville, PA and the Prince Edward Island Potato Museum. But what do all these museums mean--what are they really about? In perusing the entire list, the food museums seem to fall into several distinct categories:
- food museums that are really about local history--if your biggest industry is agriculture, then a community museum quite naturally focuses on raising corn or peaches, or whatever. If you're on the sea and your history is about fishing for sardines or whales, then that's your food museum.
- collectors museums--people collect everything, and some people collect vinegars, or mustard, or ketchup, or whatever--and then decide to share their collection with the public
- industrial history museums--museums about how food is processing--grist mills seem foremost above them.
- corporate or industry sponsored museums--these, to me, seem a bit problematic. Why? Maybe it's because I suspect that corporate museums only present one point of view. Interestingly, there was a Kelloggs Cereal City USA museum, but it has apparently closed. Although, I have to say, the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota has a great website and looks like a really fun place. Is Spam good for you? Probably not, but the museum seems not to take itself too seriously, and to have developed exhibits that really engage the visitor.
(photo above by Drew Harty, of peaches at a Finger Lakes Farmers' Market)