Picnic Time

6 May – 17 September 2017

A picnic in the countryside, un déjeuner sur l’herbe . . . all over the world, people love to get together and share a meal in the open air.

Already the Ancient Greeks enjoyed this pastime, and the invention of the picnic basket in eighteenth-century England marked its rise in status to a veritable society event. Picnicking is currently undergoing a revival in Western metropolises – whether at stylishly arranged “dîners en blanc” or carefree outings to the park with bag, baggage and barbecue grill.

Picnic Time was the first major exhibition ever devoted to the phenomenon of the picnic. The show at the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt am Main was retracing the fascination of dining out of doors through a wide range of different periods and cultures. For instance, what is the nature of the lavish picnics during the Henley Royal Regatta in England? How do people picnic on the world’s highest mountains? How do they do it in the Middle East and during cherry-blossom season in Japan? On more than a thousand square metres of exhibition space, numerous objects – including picnic utensils of widely differing forms, makes and origins – as well as installations, photographs and films bear witness to the abundant diversity of a popular custom.

Picnic rituals around the globe are as manifold as the utensils developed to celebrate them. The exhibition presented numerous examples: wonderfully decorated Japanese lacquerware picnic sets of the period around 1800 from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, for instance, point to their use by a highly developed courtly society. The French company Louis Vuitton manufactured leather cases both elegant and stable for outings to the countryside by car or motorcycle, and Fortnum & Mason’s luxurious picnic baskets, complete with china dishes, silver cutlery, and blown-glass champagne flutes, leave nothing to be desired. Light-weight aluminium dishes prove practical for hiking in the Swiss mountains, and plastic designer products offer another pragmatic alternative. Specially devised tables and chairs, clothing, fans and parasols rounded out the selection.

The picnic is a custom practised by people of all social strata. It can be a refined ritual or a spontaneous, casual gathering. At high society events and gay countryside outings alike, the sharing of food and drink brings people together and creates a sense of community. Picnicking en plein air is distinguished by playful freedom from constraint; it can offer relaxation and togetherness and sometimes even help overcome class boundaries.

Curator: Dr Charlotte Trümpler

Curatorial assistance: Leonie Wiegand

Kitchen on the Run
Intercultural cooking encounters in the container

Sat., 6 May – Sun., 21 May

Come together and cook together! The Kitchen on the Run initiative had its kitchen container set up in the museum park from 6 to 21 May. There refugees and locals could encounter one another at eye level while cooking favourite dishes with the team from Über den Tellerrand Frankfurt e.V.

With kind support from

Hotel Partner