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This site not work anymore .I have a new site and you can go there visit me. I dont go put more post here anymore ... If you like this blog go there .. I will be there for you ... Olá meus queridos amigos ... agora tenho um novo blog Este site nao funcionará mais , tive alguns problemas. Agora tenho um novo endereco de blog. Nao irei mais colocar post neste blog .. Todas as atualizacoes e novidades estarao no outro endereco .. Acessem... estarei lá pra vcssss Se vcs gostaram desse blog irao amar o outro .. mais atualizado e lindo ... Vamos láaaa .... visitem-me lá .. Beijinhos Lili

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sexta-feira, 29 de janeiro de 2010

After the Putti, the Baby Calamari




The Guggenheim's new restaurant, the Wright, with its expandable wall sculpture by Liam Gillick.


The New York Times

By LARRY ROHTER
Published: January 28, 2010

WHO doesn’t have childhood memories of field trips to the museum? After a morning of being guided through the paintings and sculptures of the great masters, everyone would head for the basement cafeteria, where you would stand in line, plastic trays in hand, waiting to be treated to a lunch of rubbery chicken and gooey tapioca pudding. Those days are gone, or at least numbered. Increasingly museums are moving away from the middle-school approach to feeding visitors, with its emphasis on a lowest-common-denominator menu, in favor of stylish restaurants that offer fine dining to go with the fine art.

Last month sleek new restaurants with sophisticated menus opened in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Arts and Design. The Whitney Museum of American Art has just announced plans to open a new cafe during the second half of this year, to be run by the celebrated restaurateur Danny Meyer, and at least two other smaller art museums in Manhattan are in negotiations to install restaurants or cafes.

The trend, though strong locally, is by no means confined to New York City. In recent years, Wolfgang Puck has partnered in museum restaurants in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Washington, and other high-end dining rooms have opened recently in museums in cities including Toronto and Atlanta.

“More and more over the past five years that is what museums, libraries and even botanical gardens have been demanding,” said Dick Cattani, the chief executive officer of Restaurant Associates, which operates both the Wright, the new restaurant at the Guggenheim, and a cafe that opened in May off the American wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Our company has been doing this since the 1960s, and the tendency is definitely away from the quick serve of the old days and toward fine dining.”

A variety of factors seems to be behind the shift. One is simple economics: with the Great Recession now in its second year and donations from corporations and wealthy board members becoming harder to obtain, museums, especially those that committed to ambitious expansion plans before the downturn, are eager to tap into new sources of income.

“We built a new museum, just to open during the crisis,” said Holly Hotchner, director of the Museum of Arts and Design, which moved into the renovated 2 Columbus Circle in the fall of 2008. “When we conceived of doubling our budget, earned income became really important, and that was even before the recession. We had to find another $5 million, and our donors are stretched to give what they give. So creative revenue sources, new ways to find income, have become very important.”

But museum officials also talk about “enhancing the museum experience” so as not to lose ground to other forms of entertainment. Visitors are both more discerning and demanding than they used to be, and many want, or even expect, a memorable meal to round off their day. And they don’t want to have to leave the building to find it.

“Given that people spend so much time here, having a dining experience comparable to the facility itself, whether formal or more casual, was important to us,” said James Gara, the chief operating officer of the Museum of Modern Art, which has offered three eating establishments in its building since 2004, when it completed its renovation. “To have just a concessionaire wasn’t up to the standards of what we were aiming for. We wanted to offer our membership and visitors something on a level with the rest of the museum.”

For restaurateurs the benefits are even more obvious. For one thing, the typical contract to operate a restaurant in a museum is accompanied by exclusive catering rights at museum events. That can be quite lucrative in its own right and also introduces the food provider to trustees, donors and other wealthy people who might want to use the caterer’s services at parties and receptions.

Then there is the lure of what amounts to a very large captive audience: MoMA, for example, attracts more than 2.7 million visitors each year. Then there is the prestige factor that comes with being associated with a major arts institution.

“A museum is an exciting facility, with high standards and benchmarks, and it gives a company a very high profile and visibility,” said Mr. Cattani, whose company operates all the food establishments at the Met, including its afternoon tea. “If you can succeed in that environment, that offers you entree to other opportunities. And museums are here to stay, so contracts are typically long term, and that brings some stability in your business.”

But installing and running a restaurant in a museum requires a balancing act on both sides. For starters there are logistical questions, like where to put a kitchen so that visitors can’t smell cooking odors and so that the artwork is in no way affected.

“This was a totally foreign area for me, and there were all these things that no one else here had any background in,” said Ms. Hotchner of the Museum of Arts and Design, whose new restaurant, Robert, is operated by the restaurateur Michael Weinstein’s Ark group. “I knew nothing about restaurant law. And dealing with a grease trap from the ninth floor to the basement?”

Beyond that, there are the larger aesthetic issues central to a museum’s mission and image. For the restaurant operator the principal challenge is to blend in and not overwhelm a museum’s distinctive look and style with a design that clashes or contradicts.

“We’re in a Breuer building that is a great piece of architecture, so we have to have to respect the quality and distinctiveness of that,” said Adam Weinberg, director of the Whitney, where the new cafe is now being designed. “Whatever we do can’t fight against that, but it can’t totally acquiesce to it either, because we’re not looking for a period piece. It’s a fine balance between being deferential, but not slavish.”
The same approach applies to the menu. The emphasis has to be on quality and variety, preferably at a reasonable price, but the cuisine cannot be so ambitious or obscure that it distracts from the artwork that visitors have come to see.

“We don’t want you to be challenged by the food, because that’s not complementary to the experience,” said Richard Coraine, managing partner in Mr. Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. “Your brain should be engaged with the art. We want you to take a rest, to take care of you, so that you can then get back to looking at amazing art.”

Several of the new restaurants acknowledge their location by bringing in art that diners can contemplate from their tables: Robert has a Jennifer Steinkamp video installation called “Orbit,” while the Wright commissioned a Liam Gillick expandable wall sculpture called “The Horizon.” The second-floor cafe at MoMA went a step further and, until this week, had Jonathan Horowitz’s witty pop art piece “Coke and/or Pepsi Machine” near the bar, where visitors were left to ponder whether it was a work of art or just a bizarre one-of-a-kind vending machine. (The museum rotates works in the cafe.)

For artists hoping to get attention for their work, that kind of exposure can be a boon. The painter and printmaker Santiago Cucullu, 40, said he was both pleased and amused when a series of 12 of his prints, “Architectonic vs. H.R.,” originally shown at MoMA in 2007 as part of an exhibition of Latin American Art, ended up on the walls of the second-floor cafe.

“I like that it is there, I feel honored to be in such esteemed company, and I get a kick out of it,” Mr. Cucullu, who was born in Argentina and now lives in Milwaukee, said in a telephone interview. “Every time my family or friends go to New York, they tell me, ‘Oh, I saw it.’ I notice that most people don’t look at it, but that doesn’t bother me. Yeah, the work recedes. But it seeps in around the edges.”

So how do the museum restaurants stack up? Five years after it opened, the Modern, on the ground floor at MoMA with a view of the sculpture garden, clearly remains in the lead, both in terms of cuisine and cost, which can be considerable.

The restaurant, which has separate bar and dining room menus and can also be entered from the street, has earned one star from Michelin and two (for the dining room) and three (for the bar) from The New York Times. But with prix fixe offerings in the main room that run $88 at dinner and $48 at lunch for two dishes and dessert, it is obviously not meant for the hurried visitor looking for a casual meal.

A far less costly alternative is the cafe on the second floor, which specializes in pasta, salumi, panini and other Italian dishes that are ordered deli-style and served at large communal tables. Another cafe, on the fifth floor, emphasizes cold dishes, salads and desserts; is smaller and less noisy; and offers a view of the city and, from some tables, the museum’s sculpture garden. Lunch for two there, drawn from a tasting menu that offered two salads and a dessert for $27, came to $98 with wine and coffee add ons.

Some of the newer restaurants, on the other hand, are still working out kinks. Arriving at Robert, for example, my party discovered that there was no record of a reservation made the day before. Perhaps for that reason we ended up in a distant corner, with Ms. Steinkamp’s rather distracting video installation dominating our line of sight instead of the New York skyline, one of the restaurant’s big selling points. Dinner, with a glass of wine, came to $72 a person.

But the lounge at the entrance of the restaurant, on the ninth floor of the Columbus Circle building and open until 2 a.m., offers a spectacular view north to Central Park, Broadway and the West Side, assuming your eyes are not drawn instead to the neon pink acrylic-and-metal rectangles hanging from the ceiling. It seems an ideal place to meet someone for drinks: the offerings are ample, prices are reasonable, and the Philip Michael Wolfson furniture is both stylish and comfortable.

At the Wright — named for Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed the Guggenheim — and open daily for lunch and for dinner Thursday through Saturday, the atmosphere is more sedate and the aesthetic more restrained. Lunch for two (a winter squash risotto, striped bass with baby calamari in sweet paprika sauce, a quartino of wine and dessert) ran $115, and was light enough that it didn’t sap the desire to go back and look at more art.

The restaurant, though small with only 58 seats, is also impressive visually. The room itself, which can also be entered from the street, is largely white, with lots of sweeping curves that arch to the ceiling and a sinuous communal table in the middle, both of which manage to evoke the circling ramp and spare aesthetic of the museum building without mimicking them.

“Our old cafe was a get-your-own-tray cafeteria with photos of artists and a kind of rinky-dink buffet,” said Maria Celi, the Guggenheim’s director of visitor services and retail operations. “Some of the old-timers may miss those photographs, but people are more sophisticated now about food, and that is something we had to recognize that if we are going to grow the repeat visits we want.”

Snack Time

Here is information about the New York museum restaurants mentioned:


ROBERT, at the Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle; (212) 299-7730, madmuseum.org.

THE MODERN; CAFE 2; TERRACE 5, at the Museum of Modern Art; (212) 333-1220, moma.org.

THE WRIGHT, at the Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, at 89th Street; (212) 427-5690, www.thewrightrestaurant.com.

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