Visiting the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, you’ll reach the very top floor with a sun-filled terrace where gracious Blue Bottle Cafe staff serve great coffee. It feels like an oasis within the museum journey. But the story gets better.
Coincidentally, a recent New York Times article by Edward Rothstein speaks to the rooftop cafe oasis experience – Rothstein describes the phenomenon of ‘Museum Mind’. You know the condition, the fatigue which sets in after so much art gazing. Visitors need to let their brains take a break, refocus before diving back into more consumption. As the author mentions, this is why you’ll find visitors flocking to gift shops to decompress.
What if you could design a better way to let people decompress, not necessarily stop thinking about art, but just shift thinking?
This is what you find on the 5th floor rooftop terrace. Here’s the magic. Blue Bottle Cafe bakers make their own cakes. It occurred to them that they could start making treats to accompany coffee, inspired by the art in the museum. Each treat is a little experiential treasure.
Sculpture Garden Cookie Plate
It’s a scavenger hunt. Clues come in cookie form and helpful hints are printed on the accompanying napkin. See that stripy cookie? Have a look at the rooftop of the building across the street and see if you can find the stripy sculpture.
Frida Kahlo Mexican Wedding Cookies
Celebrating a moment frozen in time by a painting – the wedding of Madame Kahlo and Diego Rivera. You’ve got to go down to the 2nd floor to find the 1931 original.
Tony Cragg Ice Cream Cone
Eat your gorgeous stripy ice cream cone while standing next to the real thing.
Build Your Own Barnett Newman
Just what it says in the title – instructions included in the package, plus a handy postcard to re-create the whole setting in miniature at home. *HINT: Can you find one of the other scavenger hunt cookie sculptures in the photos?
What happens in the Blue Bottle Cafe? The overall rhythm of the museum journey is improved. For a little while, there’s a space that lets you breathe easy. You’re not separated from art, but you taste it, get curious after tasting it to go and search for it, maybe revisit a piece you’ve already passed but see it in a new way. This is what gives visitors the energy and incentive to stay a little longer, and even get more excited to consume art. Check out the full menu of delicious offerings in their dessert gallery here. Be forewarned, gamely staff will give clues but NOT the answers to the scavenger hunt!