Culinary Arts Museum Closes Its Doors to the Public

Samantha Riley

The museum has long since been a signature piece of Rhode Island, not just for Johnson & Wales. As Will Brown sums it up, “it’s not a JWU museum or anything solely about the school, it’s the Culinary Arts Museum, it encompasses everything.” Its collaborations with fellow universities, organizations and businesses have strengthened its relationship with the community. It has worked with Brown University on a number of exhibits, showcased numerous historical items from around the state and displayed student’s artwork, a platform for many to receive potential job offers. In February, though, the museum officially closed its doors to the public with the press release stating that it will remain in use as a “resource and meeting place” for the students, faculty and staff.  Last summer it even held Project Cupcake, a program where Culinary Arts Museum Student Assistants taught decorating skills to the attendees. Yet its place as a main tourist and local attraction is no longer the case.

Over five years ago the university began working on figuring out what the future held for the Culinary Arts Museum. In 2014, the museum introduced a new learning area for students and faculty scholarship and collaboration, according to Lisa Pelosi, Vice President of Communications and Government Relations. In February, though, the museum officially closed its doors to the public with the press release stating that it will remain in use as a “resource and meeting place” for the students, faculty and staff.

Rosita Hopper, Dean of Libraries and now charged with oversight of the museum mentioned that “The museum will still offer its own unique services, “while also contributing to–and being enhanced by–a stronger alliance with the library. The university is in the process of determining how best to redirect the resources of the museum towards fulfilling the library’s purpose and key objections.” Hopper is working to best meet the needs of the students based on the satisfaction survey carried out by the library last spring and her communication with administrators.

While the specific fate of the museum in regard to its use as an on campus space is still unknown, those administrators have expressed what they hope it will become in regard to their respective departments. Scott Lyons, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership said, “Such needs may include, but not be limited to, a wide range of study and collaborative work spaces for projects, assignments and professional ventures; and perhaps some different activity and meeting spaces for student organizations.” Peter Lehmuller, Dean of the College of Culinary Arts shared, “My main wishes for the museum would be that it stimulates intellectual curiosity for students and enhances the good name of JWU.” Louis D’Abrosca, Dean of the College of Business main thoughts were that it upholds the university’s reputation by hosting reputable business guests, and help enrich the cultural environment and be center for information resources.

Despite the controversial decision to close the museum to the public, the Culinary Arts Museum will continue to be a place of learning, opportunity entertainment for those at Johnson & Wales University.

 

Samantha Riley

Lifestyle & Culinary Editor

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