“Please, Don’t Eat the Exhibit!”

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Posted Thu, Feb 25, 2016

Brookfield Art Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 in Denver. (Photo by Chris Schneider Photography)

Chocolate: The Exhibition punctuates  chocolate’s amazing  journey through history. [Photo: Chris Schneider]

DENVER—The “must-see” sinfully delicious exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, is an excellent practice in delayed gratification.

Chocolate.

“Chocolate: The Exhibition” is a chronological tour of chocolate’s delectably intriguing journey around the world. The exhibit is designed to immerse visitors in a English and Spanish bilingual experience using features such as aromatic pumps, climate changes, interactive touch screens and carts with a combination of actual and replica artifacts.

A Tropical Origin

The journey begins by crossing the threshold of the entrance to the exhibit with a new warmth and humidity paired with a replica cacao tree. The facts within the tropical rainforest room are posted on walls, written on placards, and presented through a touch screen. Visitors will find such interesting morsels of information as: each Cacao Pod has 30 to 50 beans, capable of  producing two to three chocolate bars.

Visitors of all ages can get a closer look at how chocolate is processed into what we see in stores. [Photo: Chris Schneider]

Visitors of all ages can get a closer look at how chocolate is processed into what we see in stores. [Photo: Chris Schneider]

A Drink of the Gods

The Ancient Mayans are the earliest people that can be definitively said to have consumed chocolate. This next step in the journey not only displays the tools used to take Cacao Beans and turn them into a bitter, spicy, frothy drink of the Gods, but also includes information about the pictographic writing system the Mayans used.

The Aztecs caught on to this elite beverage, but cacao wouldn’t grow in their region so trade was necessitated. Because of this, cacao beans became currency.

“You could say that money does grow on trees in the Aztec world,” says museum educator Samantha Richards.

A Sweet Alteration

After their expeditions in the Americas, the Spanish brought this elite beverage back to Europe, allowing it to be consumed that side of the Atlantic for the first time. The 1600’s brought with them a new addition to chocolate: sugar. This brought with it many changes, including increased popularity, increased African slave trade and chocolate houses—exclusive houses for men to gather, talk politics, gamble and of course drink sweet chocolate.

Industrialization brought mass production, mass advertising, and mass sales of chocolate, which is displayed with not only beautifully designed cases of bonbons, but displays of various chocolate products, valentines and advertising campaigns through the ages.

Chocolate: The Exhibition displays various chocolate products, valentines and advertising campaigns through the ages. [Photo: Courtesy of The Denver Museum of Nature and Science]

A Molded Modernization

With the Industrial Revolution came the molding of chocolate into the solid treats we are more accustomed to today. The exhibit explains how chocolate is processed into what we see in the stores and utilizes a touch screen with which visitors can get a closer look. Industrialization brought mass production, mass advertising, and mass sales of chocolate, which is displayed with not only beautifully designed cases of bonbons, but displays of various chocolate products, valentines and advertising campaigns through the ages.

A Bittersweet End

The final informational room of the exhibit discusses modern farming practices, fair trade, and chocolate in the stock market, including the ethicality of certain practices such as child labor. Having reached the end of the chronological journey with chocolate in today’s world, visitors will encounter one last cart with a quiz to guess whether you are more of a white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate fan. Don’t miss the giant box of beautiful (and inedible) chocolates sculpted on the final partition.

Not to be missed is the café stationed between the exit and entrance with a series of hand-crafted chocolate treats ranging from a chocolate fountain to truffles to cake and beyond. Have you already tried the selections provided on a previous visit? Worry not! There will be a rotating menu throughout the stay of the exhibit.

Salivating for More?

What: Chocolate: The Exhibition

Where: Denver Museum of Nature and Science

2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO 80205

When: February 12, 2016 – May 8, 2016

Cost: Free with general admission; $14.95 adult, $9.95 child/junior aged 3-18, $11.95 senior

Parking: Free lots and garage on premises

About Rhiannon Goodrich

Rhiannon Goodrich is a Denver-area journalist and freelance writer

View all posts by Rhiannon Goodrich

3 Responses to ““Please, Don’t Eat the Exhibit!””

  1. Denise force Says:

    Nicely done article on DMNS exhibit . Think I will check it out.

    Reply

  2. Aslan Says:

    This “free sharing” of inioamrtfon seems too good to be true. Like communism.

    Reply

  3. http://www./ Says:

    Hola.Había leído sobre esta extraordinaria anomalía pero nunca visto un documental ni conocido directa o indirectamente a nadie, así que gracias ha resultado muy interesante para mí.Que suerte esta señora que saca tanto gusto a la poesía y todo lo que lee le sabe rico.

    Reply

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