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MMC Food Studies Scholar Speaks at IX St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum

Associate VP for Strategic Initiatives and Professor of Communication and Media Arts Kathleen LeBesco, Ph.D., recently participated virtually in “A Taste of Art”—a high-powered international panel of museum curators, restaurateurs, and marketing experts—at the IX St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum.

Speaking as a food studies scholar, LeBesco discussed how customer expectations and institutional creativity affect the food services available in North American museums. She contrasted the convenient, merely serviceable museum cafeteria to more imaginative museum restaurants that assist museums in carrying out their interpretive and educational missions.

“In our current experience economy, there’s important symbolic work happening in museum restaurants, as restaurateurs are curating experiences for customers who may or may not otherwise interact with the museum collections or exhibits,” says LeBesco. “By bringing artworks into the dining space, aligning menus with exhibits, emphasizing authenticity, and providing docent-like interpretation by servers, many museum restaurants offer a compatibly contemplative dining experience.”

The mission of the IX St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum is to establish an international appreciation of culture and to integrate Russian culture into the globalized cultural network. The forum seeks to inform viewers about Russia’s heritage and to highlight St. Petersburg as one of the cultural capitals of the world.

LeBesco’s talk on food culture in museums (starting at approximately 45:00) can be viewed in an online recording of the panel.

Great work, Dr. LeBesco!

Published: November 17, 2020