"Your Appetite" Section

Part of Exhibition: YOU! The Experience



of an Exhibit

by Leah Reisman

Published on January 01, 2014

  • Museum: Museum of Science and Industry Chicago

  • Visit Date: Year 2010

  • Description:

    Attached is a paper I completed while a student at the University of Chicago. It is an ethnographic investigation of the “Your Appetite” section of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry’s “YOU! The Experience” exhibition. Drawing on research on American food psychology and studies of the impact of prior knowledge in museums, the paper discusses how American media-driven categorical conceptions of food and diet seemed to shape visitor experiences of “Your Appetite’s” open-ended format. This paper is based on several days of participant observation in the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago’s galleries, two one-hour semi-structured interviews with “YOU!’s” project director, and thirteen five to ten-minute interviews with visitors, all carried out between April and June 2010. Interviewees were informally recruited after interacting with “Your Appetite” displays, particularly the “Food Tally” interactive, located in the center of the section. It is important to note that I did not interview a statistically significant or fully representative cross-section of visitors; additionally, the trends described in this paper do not represent the comments of all interviewed visitors. For these reasons, this paper does not intend to generalize to or comment on the overall success or failure of “YOU! The Experience” in achieving its goals. It merely points to a phenomenon that I noticed and found to be interesting.

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