Have You Eaten Yet?: The Chinese Restaurant in America
Opening Reception: September 14, 2004, 6:00 pm - 8:00pm; Runs through June 2005.
Museum of Chinese in the Americas
70 Mulberry St., 2nd Floor (in Chinatown)
New York, NY 10013
Tuesday - Thursday : 12:00 - 6:00
Friday : 12:00 - 7:00 (with free admission all day)
Saturday - Sunday : 12:00 - 6:00
$1 Seniors/Students with I.D.
Free for members and children under 12
I'd never even known there was a Museum of Chinese in the Americas, much less that it was in the former PS 23 on Mulberry St., on the corner of Bayard, in the heart of Manhattan Chinatown. But there it was, tucked into a few rooms on the second floor, with arts spaces around it.
The major exhibition, "Have You Eaten Yet?" fit into a hallway and a smallish room, with menus from restaurants and reminiscences from people who'd worked in them. There were many displays, including one on Kosher Chinese Restaurants, and on American "Chinese" foods, both canned--mostly from the 1960s--and from recipe books dating back to the 1920s. I learned a lot about the history of Chinese restaurants in America. There was even a bit on who General Tso was and how, while he's remembered in Sichuan province as a famous general, no one knows about the dish named for him here in the States.
One really impressive bit is that many of the items on display came from the collection of one man, Harley Spiller. Apparently his Upper East Side apartment is full of quirky collections like restaurant menus.
In the entry hallway there's an exhibit of photographs of "Chop suey houses" in the Pacific Northwest called, appropriately enough, "Chop Suey", which is on through the end of this month. I'm completely unfamiliar with that particular restaurant scene, but the photos of the flamboyant neon signs were eyecatching.
Afterwards, bedfull_o_books said she had to have Chinese food. This was an easy craving to satisfy nearby.