Curated nutrition bars are turning out to be an effective way to interpret collections and earn income for museums and historic sites across the country. First introduced by the Friends of Gettysburg National Battlefield for the July 2015 re-enactment, the “Blue & Gray Battle Bar” drew inspiration from the historic Civil War battle. “We knew the kinds of foods soldiers were eating so it was just a matter of coming up with a combination that tasted good and was good for you,” said curator John Rupp, “Hard tack, peas, and coffee had to be in there, of course, but we had to work with food scientists to figure out how to include salt pork. Quinoa wasn’t my idea, but someone said we had to include it for marketing purposes.” Fortunately, the curators were also able to have some fun and included minie balls, which also resolves a major deaccessioning challenge because of the thousands that fill their collection.
Other museums and historic sites heard about the success of this venture, especially after it was featured in the fall issue of Museum Business. Currently under development are:
- Big Met Bar: It’s so big, you’ll be full before you’re even halfway through.
- Smithsonian Behring Bar: a sprinkling of stars from a spangled banner, dinosaurs, pandas, air, space, and some wonder. So many flavors you can’t tell what you’re eating.
- Colonial Williamsburg’s Christiana Campbell Bar: crab, salet, and corn pudding dipped in heritage chocolate (with zombies!). It’ll be about 4 inches high and equally thick.
If you know of a museum or historic site that’s developing a Curated bar, please share it in the comments below!