Like the Library and Museum Shop, the Museum Restaurant plays an important role in the visitor’s experience of the art museum, even if these departments are frequently seen as peripheral to the core activity of collecting and displaying art. By creating a museum restaurant in one of the twelve rooms of his Museum of Contemporary African Art Gaba presents social interaction and sharing as an essential element of his vision.
When it was first presented at W139 in Amsterdamin 1999, Gaba invited fellow artists to each prepare and host a dinner in his Museum Restaurant. On seven occasions during a two-week period visitors were able to book for dinner prepared by a different artist-chef. The artists each offered hearty family meals prepared on site in Gaba’s Museum Restaurant and some of them intervened in the space. On the final night, Dutch artist Rudy Luijters cooked a chicken he and Gaba had slaughtered earlier in the day. His intervention, Menu Broodthaers 1999, a video of a live chicken with an audio recording of a conversation between the two artists, is the only work that has remained a permanent part of the Museum Restaurant.
The Museum Restaurant continues to be activated in this way with emerging artists being invited to participate. When not in use, the public are welcome to occupy the space complete with lanterns and plastic tablecloths on the trestle tables.