43rd Annual Meeting – Collection Care Session: Beyond ‘No Food or Drink Allowed in the Gallery:’ Best Practices for Food in Cultural Institutions by Rebecca Newberry, Fran Ritchie, and Bethany Palumbo

Does the thought of blue martinis, smelly hot dogs, and live penguins in your exhibition space make you gag? The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections has sponsored a survey and development of best practices to help mitigate the risks posed by food service (and inebriated guests) in collections storage and display areas. This presentation summarized the survey responses, and illustrated them with a number of entertaining and apt case studies. The best practices document will be posted on the NHPRC website in the next few months.
The survey was initiated by Cathy Hawkes in 2011. In addition to answering questions, the survey also solicited written food policies from the respondents to reflect current practice. The top result of the survey was concern about not having a written policy; and 40% of respondents reported pest-related activity related to food in the building.
The best practices that came out of the survey have been well-proven through the experience of the survey respondents and the authors, and are generally agreed upon. The key is to develop a written policy on food management and get buy-in from all stakeholders to enforce it (e.g. administration, vendors, facilities, café/store staff, curators and collections management staff, security). The policy should address preparation, consumption, and disposal of food. It should explain the housekeeping and integrated pest management implications of food in collections areas. Staff should be well-trained in how to interact with the public to enforce the policy. And risk mitigation should be part of contracts signed with vendors; the contract can also reflect a “This event never happened” clause (i.e. leave no trace).
Some specific tips discussed include:

  • Clean up immediately after an event
  • Put out extra tables for dirty dishes (so they don’t go on top of exhibit cases)
  • Provide space for staff to eat with proper waste containers
  • Make clear signage for where to eat and not; include a simple educational message like “Food attracts pests which can damage our collections.”
  • Determine the path that food and waste will take in and out of the collections space.
  • Menu should consist of food that is tidy when eaten: no popcorn, red wine, ice cream, or round things that roll under exhibit cases like grapes
  • Ventilation and fire suppression need to be accounted for

Following these steps will help you to avoid getting ketchup on your dinosaur (yes, it really happened!).
SPNHC Food Survey Report 2014

Food in Indy

With AIC’s 41st Annual Meeting fast approaching, I’ve not only been looking forward to a range of interesting and informative presentations, but I’m also excited to see colleagues and friends. With the busy conference agenda, I find that the best time to catch up with people is for a meal. Indianapolis has no shortage of good places to eat and drink. I wanted to share a few of them with you so you can plan your best experience while you’re in Indy.
The conservation department at the IMA loves good food. I’ve asked my colleagues to share their favorite places to eat so that you can enjoy some of the best that Indy has to offer. We’ve taken into account some dietary needs (we represent quite a gamut ourselves: vegetarian, egg allergy, garlic allergy, onion allergy, gluten-free, etc.) as well as location. I figured most of you will have Yelp on your phone, so this is just a highlight of some favorites. I wanted to focus on places that were somewhat unique to Indy. You can also find places like McCormick and Schmick’s or Palaminos downtown (please consult Yelp, the concierge, or ask one of the Indianapolis folks).
There are several good bars in the downtown area that serve food as well (but not always a full meal). This is also a great option to sit down and catch up with friends. My colleague, Richard McCoy, wrote a blog post highlighting some good places to grab a drink.
Walking distance from the JW Marriot:
Sky City Café at the Eiteljorg Museum: The café is located on the main floor of the Eiteljorg, along the downtown canal, and offers southwestern themed dishes.
Café Patachou: This small, Indy-based chain uses fresh, local ingredients and offers a good selection for vegetarians. There are several locations around town, but the one downtown at Capitol and Washington is walking distance from the conference hotel. They serve a good variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches. They have options for those who are vegetarian or gluten-free. (Open for breakfast and lunch only).
Napolese: An Artisanal Pizzeria: Napolese is a small, local chain that was recently opened by the owners of Patachou. The pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired over and made from a variety of fresh, local ingredients. Located at 30 South Meridian (on Meridian between Washington and Maryland), this place is a short walk from the conference hotel. They have good vegetarian and gluten-free options. (This location is open for lunch and dinner).
Stardust Terrace Café at the Indiana Historical Society: The café is catered by Hoaglins (which also has its own café on Mass Ave—see below). They have good options for soups, salads, and sandwiches. You can dine inside or outside along the canal.
A longer walk (or short taxi ride):
There are many good places along Mass Ave. The southwest end of the street is walk-able from the hotel (in my opinion), but there are some good places at the far end of the street that may seem like a bit of a hike.
Bazbeaux Pizza: Bazbeaux’s is another local chain, located at 333 Massachusetts Ave. They offer a lunch special that includes a slice of pizza and salad. They have craft beers and numerous options for vegetarians. Prices here are very reasonable. (Open for lunch and dinner).
Hoaglin To Go: Hoaglin’s offers catering at a number of venues around Indy, including the Indiana History Center, but they have a café at 448 Mass Ave. They serve breakfast and lunch.
Bru Burger: Classic and unique burgers made from local meats (when possible). They have some vegetarian and gluten-free options. Located at 410 Mass Ave.
Creation Café: Located at the end of the downtown canal (at 337 West 11th Street) in Buggs Temple. They offer lots of salads, sandwiches, and pasta for lunch. They have many vegetarian options. Reasonably priced and they have nice outdoor seating if the weather is nice.
Saffron Café: This Moroccan restaurant is located at 621 Fort Wayne Ave. They have several vegetarian options. The portions are large, so sharing might be a good idea (or you may be really hungry if you walk there and back).
Cerulean: This new addition to downtown Indy is affiliated with Alexander Hotel and is located at 339 South Delaware Street. Cerulean features fine dining (with some relatively affordable lunch options). They have a full bar and decent wine list. Appetizers at the bar are recommended.
A Taxi ride away (but worth the trip and not too far from the downtown area):
R Bistro: Located at 888 Massachusetts Ave (the far end of the Ave). They serve local, fresh foods dreamed up by chef Regina Mehallick. The menu changes weekly to incorporate what’s fresh and in-season. Open for lunch and dinner (online reservations are recommended). Not the most economical option in town, but the food is really good.

Bluebeard: Located at 653 Virginia Ave near Fountain Square, this restaurant features only local, hand-crafted, and in-season foods. Nothing comes from a can or jar. The menu changes often to reflect what’s locally available. Lunch is affordable, but dinner can be pricey (but probably worth every penny).
Bosphorus Istanbul Café: A Turkish restaurant located at 935 S. East St., near the Lilly campus and Fountain Square. They have good lunch specials and amazing hummus. They have a few vegetarian options.
I hope everyone has a great time at the conference.  Please feel free to leave a comment with other ideas of places to eat.