The sweet experience opens at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Feb. 12.
DENVER — Jan. 25 — Chocolate. The word conjures up visions of candy bars, hot fudge sundaes, rich brownies and other indulgences, yet chocolate’s origin as a bitter seed found deep in the rainforest has been known for thousands of years. “Chocolate: The Exhibition” — opening at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Feb. 12 — engages all the senses as guests trace the story of the “food of the gods,” from its earliest cultivation among the ancient Maya to its status today as the world’s favorite sweet treat.
We mostly know chocolate as a sugary dessert, but the ancient Maya knew it as a frothy, spicy drink made from the bitter seeds of the cacao tree and used in royal and religious ceremonies. It was coveted by later cultures — particularly the Aztec — and soon became a valuable article of trade. When the first Europeans reached the Aztec capital in 1519, instead of piles of gold they found treasure troves of cacao seeds. Eventually there was an insatiable European demand for chocolate and its new soul mate, sugar, which led to its rock-star status today.
In this bilingual exhibition, visitors of all ages will enjoy immersive exhibits, fun interactives and detailed replicas and objects that place chocolate under the lenses of science, history and popular culture.
- Stand under a life-size cacao tree and examine the pods and seeds that are the source of chocolate.
- See replicas of Maya vessels that once held the cacao drinks of kings and nobles.
- Barter for precious cacao seeds in an interactive Aztec market experience.
- Follow cacao’s journey to Spain, where it was combined with sugar and became a global commodity that caused a human toll to meet the growing demand.
- Explore how technology and creative advertising during the Industrial Revolution transformed chocolate from an expensive luxury to an affordable product for all.
- See European silver and porcelain chocolate servers, examples of 19th- and 20thcentury advertising and packaging, and tools and techniques used for processing chocolate and creating delicious treats.
- Learn about fair trade chocolate and the relationship between cocoa farmers, chocolate companies and consumers.
- Discover your “chocolate personality” with a fun game, and shop for chocolate treats and goodies.
“From its earliest roots among ancient peoples to its dominant role as a global commodity, chocolate is a study in world history,” said Chip Colwell, the Museum’s curator for the exhibition. “Guests will engage in an experience that not only shows how chocolate came to be such a delicious treat but also how its rise to fame and fortune has impacted cultures
and our planet along the way.”
“Chocolate: The Exhibition” and its national tour were developed by The Field Museum, Chicago. This exhibition was supported in part by the National Science Foundation. It is presented in Denver by Enstrom Toffee and Confectionary.
Media contact: Maura O’Neal, [email protected], 303.370.6407
About the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is the Rocky Mountain Region’s leading resource for informal science education. Our mission is to be a catalyst and ignite the community’s passion for nature and science. The Museum envisions an empowered community that loves, understands and protects our natural world. As such, a variety of engaging exhibits, discussions and activities help Museum visitors celebrate and understand the wonders of Colorado, Earth, and the universe. The Museum is located at 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO, 80205. To learn more about the Museum, visit dmns.org or call 303.370.6000. Many of the Museum’s educational programs and exhibits are made possible in part by the citizens of the seven-county metro area through the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District. Connect with the Museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.