My friend Kristina, her mom, and I went downtown yesterday morning to view two exhibitions, the Chocolate Exhibition at the Exploreum and the King Tut Exhibition at the History Museum of Mobile. We were in luck as the rain was just moving on as we were driving downtown.
We headed to the Chocolate Exhibition first, which was held at Mobile's Exploreum, mainly a kids' science center, but which also hosts temporary exhibitions along side their science related displays and hands on exhibitions.
The Chocolate Exhibition was interesting. The first part of the exhibition was focused on the growth of cacao and its transformation in the Mayan and Aztec cultures before it was discovered by the Spanish through their conquest of that area. This part of the exhibition was illustrated as a miniature forest with cacao trees and featured artifact replicas from the Mayan and Aztec cultures.
The second part of the exhibition was focused on chocolate as it was traded throughout Europe and other countries and its later development into the chocolate we know today.
They had lovely ceramics on view that were manufactured by companies especially for the consumption of hot chocolate.
Here is a display of 19th century chocolate mix containers. It was interesting to see what companies are still in business and how their logos have changed since then. Nestle Quik hasn't changed much besides the addition of their bunny mascot while Ovaltine doesn't resemble their 19th century logo at all.
They had a wonderful display of antique chocolate molds that were made for individuals to use and larger ones used by chocolate companies.
They had molds for Ghirardelli, Hershey's, and a company I had never heard of called Wilbur.
Apparently chocolate companies sent out employees with these chocolate kits to schools in the United States to teach children what ingredients went into making chocolate. I can't believe this artifact has actually survived.
They had a display of early 20th century candy bar wrappers (see the Snickers, Kit Kats, and Butterfingers?!)
Did you know that soldiers were given rations of chocolate during WWII? They were called d-rations and by all accounts weren't very appetizing. The chocolate was made differently to give it a more nutritional value and less of a sweet taste. It caused the soldiers to save the chocolate for emergencies instead of devouring it like they would a normal candy bar.
Makes me wonder if it caused a whole generation of men to despise chocolate?!
The last display of modern chocolate memorabilia was Valentine's Day advertisements and candy boxes and tins.
After that section, you go on to another display about modern cacao manufacturing. Did you know that chocolate consumption is actually equal between men and women?! I would have never thought so. Obviously my cousin is abnormal as he hates sweets. ;)
After buying some yummy chocolate in the gift shop, we walked out and around the corner to the History Museum of Mobile for the King Tut Exhibition. Sadly I don't have any photos of the exhibition as I didn't think to ask if they were allowed.
The exhibition was well laid out and informative, but I felt it contained too many text panels, even for me, a museum lover. Now this isn't the museum's fault as it is a traveling temporary exhibition, which means that all the text panels, etc. would have been included in the exhibition.
I will say it is a great way for people to learn about the various artifacts found in King Tut's tomb, especially if you haven't seen them before or are just starting to study the ancient Egyptians.
Perhaps if this exhibition of King Tut's artifact replicas travels again in the future, I would love to see the organizers revamp it to include a few authentic artifacts, maps of the tomb, and more photographs of the tomb as it was being excavated and catalogued by Howard Carter. Having practiced in the field of archaeology for several years before being employed at my present job, I am a lover of both history and archaeology and would be interested to see both sides illustrated in an exhibition of this kind.
Overall, I think both exhibitions are worth the time to see. There are several other museums in downtown Mobile that are great to tour on a weekend so if you are traveling through or are a local looking for something to do, come on down and check them out :)
Until next time >___<