The Triennale Design Museum in Milan

Imagine a day filled with coffee, Italian wine, an interactive museum, food from all over the world, and educational exhibits about the future of food. This might get you started thinking of one of my favorite days of summer yet, the day we visited Expo in Milan! We started out the day at the Triennale Museum of Design, which is one of my favorite museums in the world. I enjoyed my visit to the museum 2 years ago but I think I enjoyed it even more this time. The Triennale Museum is housed in an impressive architectural complex which was built more than 80 years ago but still looks trendy and modern today. The museum’s collection changes entirely every year and is always based on the evolution of Italian design. Special exhibits also rotate in and out of the museum. This year’s exhibit was all about food and kitchen product design.

Our tickets to Expo granted us free admission to the museum but I paid an extra 3 Euros to rent the interactive Audio Guide via ipad. The ipad would detect the sensors located near certain pieces in the museum and que the commentary on the device. Since the museum is huge, there was a lot to see! We spent more than 2 hours perusing the collection and listening to the commentary. Before beginning, we enjoyed cappuccinos and a sandwich in the museum cafe, then went through all 3 exhibits. Let me show you what kinds of things we saw in the museum and why they were chosen for this year’s exhibition at the Triennale.

1) Artwork about food by famous artists including Picasso and Monet was featured near the beginning of the exhibition, demonstrating the central role food plays in our culture, even affecting the art we admire.

artwork related to food
artwork related to food
artwork depicting food
artwork related to food

2) The evolution of kitchen furniture design was also showcased in the first exhibit, demonstrating people’s obsession with the appearance of their cooking spaces and how tastes and preferences changed over time.

kitchen design
kitchen design
kitchen design
kitchen design

3) In the next section, the museum documented food advertising attempts by various companies, showing how these ads played into the feelings and emotions of everyday life and offered to solve problems with the solution of eating.

food advertising
food advertising
food advertising
food advertising

4) In this section we also saw lots of eccentric contemporary art related to food such as a house made out of bread, spaghetti on a fork, a lever of coffee beans, and a larger than life fish.

spaghetti on a fork
spaghetti on a fork
house of bread
house of bread

5) Joey and I both enjoyed this depiction of McDonald’s in a sort of apocalyptic sense. Maybe the artist went a little too far by nailing Ronald McDonald to a cross, but the piece was intriguing all the same.

056

057

6) The design part of the museum focused on the evolution of trendy refrigerators, microwaves, coffee machines, and even how we get rid of our waste products.

Joey with the fridges
Joey with the fridges
evolution of coffee makers
evolution of coffee makers

The entirety of the museum posed lots of questions and the artwork demanded reflection. Many of the pieces made political and social commentary about the current situation of food on a global scale. In some instances the artist was commenting on the dangers of obesity and related diseases whereas in other cases the artist instead focused on the problem of world hunger and those hunger affects. I can not imagine anyone who would be bored visiting this exhibit. The variety of the art, design, and sculpture pieces on display was enough to pique the interest of almost anyone. I enjoyed the museum a lot but it felt like a warm up for the food explosion that was to come at Expo. So by 1pm, we were on the metro towards Rho Fiera, the Expo was located at the very outskirts of Milan so it took about 30 minutes to arrive there via the metro. When we arrived, we found out just how huge Expo is! I knew it was bit, but I really had no idea how big! We had to walk almost a mile from the metro station before we were even in the main part of the huge area dedicated to the Expo. Over 140 countries participated in this years Expo and each had their own exhibit designed to inform visitors about food security and sustainability initiatives as well as popular foods in their country. In my next post, I will describe and show some photos of what we saw at Expo!

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