The Art of Museum Dining


Plated on a crisp white canvas, with abstract swirls of color, a dish created by a chef can be an edible work of art. Whether it’s a carefully constructed tower of produce or a candied flower garnish, each placement is deliberate and adds to the overall visual landscape of the entree. The thought and creativity poured into handcrafted cuisine is what makes it a worthy counterpart for artwork that fills the halls of some of the country’s top museums. With eateries on-site at these cultural institutions, diners can savor gourmet meals before or after a day of exploration.

For top-level museum dining, visit three of the nation’s distinct cultural metropolises—New York, Miami and San Francisco. See where art and culinary prowess collide at these prominent museums known for their engaging exhibits and elevated cuisine.


Pérez Art Museum Miami

Verde Interior Image

Verde at Pérez Art Museum Miami offers international cuisine with a menu highlighting local ingredients for lunch, in addition to dinner service on Thursday evenings. Operated by the museum’s exclusive catering partner, Stephen Starr Events, the 104-seat restaurant makes use of the building’s contemporary design. Gauze-like material drapes the concrete walls for a softer approach, accented by pendant lighting, wood tables and a neutral color palette.

This simple approach successfully translates to the menu, with a careful selection of elegant options available under a handful of categories. Starters range from charcuterie plates to raw offerings, such as beef carpaccio or hamachi sashimi with citrus ponzu, while heartier dishes include some of the chef’s favorites—a squash blossom pizza and a side order of sauteed lacinato kale with toasted faro and salsa verde.

In addition to the gourmet fare, there’s also a full bar featuring specialty cocktails like the guava margarita and passion fruit cilantro caipirinha. The main draw of Verde for patrons, however, is the unparalleled waterfront location.



California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

(Courtesy of Ryan Hughes)
(Courtesy of Ryan Hughes)

From the lunch-only menu that’s infused with local ingredients to an environmentally friendly design, The Moss Room at the California Academy of Sciences takes a thoughtful approach to keeping the museum’s objectives in mind.

Most dishes at the restaurant are entirely seasonal, incorporating local, sustainable and organic items from local farmers whenever possible. Some of the menu items are even closely inspired by what’s on display within the expansive museum buildings, in addition to James Beard-nominated Executive Chef Charles Phan’s Vietnamese influences.

The space itself is the ultimate reflection of the museum’s mission of sustainability, designed with the academy’s Double LEED-Platinum status in mind. Upon entering, patrons are greeted by a 28-foot-high, 40-foot-long living wall set above a 2,300-gallon freshwater tank with more than 30 kinds of South Asian fish.



Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Dining Room_Ellen Silverman

“How can you not be inspired every time you walk in the door of [the Museum of Modern Art]?” asks Dino Lavorini, director of operations for Art Food, which oversees The Modern, Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 at the museum.

The Modern, a Michelin-starred, James Beard Foundation award-winning French restaurant, takes the concept of artistic inspiration and infuses it into every corner of its space. The dining room is minimal in design, with the intent being that the people and dishes will add color and movement. One of the four walls features a single photograph, “Clearing” by Thomas Demand, while another wall is made up of glass panes so diners can overlook the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden that features works ranging from Picasso to Miró.

“Every interaction throughout the day with the art on the walls inspires creation on the plate,” Lavorini says. “… Each season invokes inspiration, as do new exhibits. Seasonality and sustainability are important drivers of the face of our menu.”

Museumgoers, as well as those coming exclusively for the four-course prix fixe tasting meal experience, can frequent the restaurant for both lunch and dinner. In addition to the main dining room, The Modern features two private dining spaces and The Bar Room, a more casual dining and bar area that serves small plates—all accessible via a separate street level entrance that allows patrons to visit outside of regular museum hours.


—Written by Allison Hata