Chocolate: The Exhibition Visit Guide

Anniston Museum’s newest blockbuster exhibit opens Saturday, January 29, 2011. Before you visit, take a few moments to look over this pre-visit guide, get a sense of what the exhibition has to offer, and learn how this will be a wonderful, yet very different kind of visit than anything you may have experienced at Anniston Museum before.

Exhibition Overview & Walkthrough

Where does chocolate come from? How is it made? And how has it sweet-talked its way into our hearts? Take a walk with us through the highlights of the exhibition and learn a bit more about this sweet treat we all love to eat:

You will begin your journey in the Museum Auditorium in a
Tropical Rainforest

Enter the lush tropical rainforest and examine a replica of a cacao tree with its seed pods. Learn about the complex ecosystem that supports the healthy growth of the remarkable Theobroma cacao, the tiny midges that pollinate it, and the birds that make homes in its branches.

Wind your way through the Museum Auditorium and visit
The Ancient Maya

See how sculpture & carved vessels, cacao seeds in dishes, & chemical residue in pots helped scientists trace the roots of chocolate to the ancient Maya, the first to turn the bitter seeds into a spicy drink for use in ceremonies & trade.

Within the Museum Lobby, discover the ancient world of
The Aztec

Cacao was the key to the vast empire of the Aztec people – as a luxury drink for the elite, an offering to the gods, payment to rulers, and money in the marketplace. An interactive Aztec marketplace shows visitors the purchasing power of a handful of beans. Find out what treasure Cortés discovered in the storerooms of Montezuma.

Still in the Lobby, near the Museum Store, travel overseas as
Chocolate Comes to Europe

The Spanish conquest of the Americas introduced chocolate to Europe. Learn what happened when chocolate first met sugar … and what really went on in the elite chocolate houses of Europe. See how the wealthiest consumers satisfied their chocolate cravings. And discover the human toll that was paid: enslaved peoples toiling on sugar and cacao plantations to meet the growing European demand.

Take a right hand turn into the Exhibit Halls (backwards from our normal traffic flow) for a lesson on
Chocolate Manufacturing

Cacao seeds grow on trees, but chocolate bars have to be made, by hand or by machine. Take a look at the sweet side of the industrial revolution – the steady stream of new inventions and creative advertising that brought chocolate bars to the masses.

Continue down the hallway toward the Changing Exhibits Gallery and discover
Chocolate in the Global Market

Explore the relationship between growing, selling, and consuming cacao. Trace its ups and downs in the world market, and check the stock ticker to see its price on the futures exchange today.

Turn left and enter the Changing Exhibit Gallery to learn about
Cacao Growers

Learn where and how cacao is grown today. See how it’s harvested, prepared and shipped. And find out what farmers are doing to preserve their crops, their income, and the rainforest.

Wind through the Changing Exhibit Gallery for a wrap up of
Chocolate Today

Chocolate means different things to different people. Find out how people cook with it, eat and drink it, and use it to celebrate holidays around the world. Learn about the myths and realities of chocolate’s effect on health.

Exit the Chocolate exhibit through Ancient Egypt & continue your tour of Anniston Museum’s seven permanent Exhibit Halls in reverse order! Before you leave, visit the Museum Store & purchase some sweets to go from the special Chocolate Shoppe. Exit the Museum through the Tropical Conservatory, to the right of the Museum Store.

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How Chocolate Will Be Like Past Blockbuster Exhibits

Visitors to Chocolate: The Exhibition will get the full impact of a major blockbuster traveling exhibit: great graphics, spectacular components, interactive video and loads of entertaining, educational information! A creation of The Field Museum, Chicago, in association with the National Science Foundation, you are guaranteed a top notch visit experience, start to finish. The Field Museum’s traveling exhibits, including such familiar titles as A T. rex Named SUE, are among the finest in the world. But this exhibit is also different in some very important ways …

How It Will Be Different From Anything We’ve Offered

Chocolate: The Exhibition is unlike any traveling exhibit we have hosted before. Between January 29 and May 22, your visit experience will also be unique. We want all our visitors to be able to enjoy the Museum and Special Exhibition to its fullest, so we offer this pre-visit guide in order that you may familiarize yourself with a few key differences in traffic flow, ticketing, shopping, etc. during the run of this exhibit.

• The first, most significant differences between this Special Exhibition and any past blockbusters are size and layout. Chocolate is an enormous exhibit, taking up almost all our usable public and exhibit spaces. And the exhibit itself is laid out in a specific manner, leading the visitor through time and across continents. For this reason, the exhibit must be viewed in one continuous path. Unlike A T. rex Named SUE or Reptiles, where visitors had a choice of how they would enter and in which order they would view the exhibition components, with Chocolate, as soon as you purchase your ticket, you are set on a path through the exhibit which winds through the different exhibit areas, leading you on an unalterable path through the entire exhibit. Direct access from the front door to the main Museum Exhibit Halls, restrooms, or the Museum Store will not be possible. The exhibit itself will block this normal access with "walls" and component pieces as it creates its "path" through the chocolate timeline. In order to access the Exhibit Halls and Store, you will walk through the Chocolate exhibit, from beginning to approximately midpoint.

• Everyone must purchase a ticket before entering. Access to restrooms and Museum Store’s Chocolate Shoppe will be available after ticket purchase.

• Visitors will exit the Museum through the Conservatory, home to a variety of orchids and tropical plants that will treat you to a delight of sights and smells. Because of the "path" of the exhibit, exiting through front doors will be impossible. Due to the layout of this exhibit, re-entry will not be possible.

• Budget your time wisely! This exhibit is large and is designed on a "path." Because of this, you should allow at least 45 minutes to view Chocolate on its own. Allow extra time to see the main Museum Exhibit Halls and for Museum Store & Chocolate Shoppe shopping. These areas will close at 4:45pm M–F and 5:45pm Sat–Sun. To experience the exhibit fully, admissions will stop at 4:15pm on weekdays and at 5:15pm on weekends. Don’t wait until late afternoon to visit–you may be able to view the Chocolate exhibit, but may not have time for shopping, or to enjoy the main Exhibit Halls.

• Please note: Museum Members receive half-price admission. If you are a Museum Member, you & your family must show your membership cards to receive your half price admission rate. If you have lost your cards, please contact the membership department right away for replacements, 256-237-6766 x 120. Purchase or renew your membership at the front desk..

• There is no visit option which excludes the Special Exhibit. Regular Museum admission and free member admission will be reinstated May 30, after the removal of the Chocolate exhibit.

• Please note: The exhibit itself does not include chocolate sampling. However, we will offer many opportunities to taste and enjoy different chocolate treats (see Chocolate Events) during the run of the exhibit. And you may purchase a variety of chocolates at any time in the Museum Store’s Chocolate Shoppe.

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