Irina Mihalache was born in Bucharest, Romania under Communist rule. Witnessing a transitioning society face new forms of politics, consumption and media motivated her to study Communication during her undergraduate degree at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (now Randolph College) in Lynchburg, VA. She obtained her MA at New York University in the French Studies Program, where she became interested in post-colonial museums in France. She moved to Ottawa to pursue a doctorate in communication studies, writing her dissertation about the Institute of the Arab World in Paris. Before joining the iSchool in January 2013, she spent one year as A.W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Global Communication at the American University of Paris.
Professor Mihalache’s principal goal in teaching and research is to understand how museums do the work that they do in their political and cultural contexts. She believes that the only way to truly understand the work of an institution is to look critically at the history of its spaces, practices and communities. This belief brought her to her current project, which centers on the relation between food and museums.
Her current research asks what people eat in museums, and opens up several research routes. First, given their historical presence in museums, it problematizes the absence of the restaurants in museum studies literature, helping to establish a history of the museum restaurant. Second, focusing on the archives of the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto) and the Seattle Art Museum, it examines the role of the women’s committees and their work making museums into social and culinary spaces to demonstrate how women used food to make museums into public institutions they claimed to be. Finally, Professor Mihalache is developing an exhibition in collaboration with the Fisher Rare Book Library planned for summer of 2018. It draws on the library’s culinary collection, showing what culinary ephemera such as restaurant menus and cookbooks reveal about how people ate, tasted and thought about food in museums.
Master of Museum Studies
food studies, food and media, food and museums, museum communication, museum interpretation, global museums
Levent, N. and Mihalache, I.D., eds. Food and Museums. London: Bloomsbury Academics, 2016.
Mihalache, I.D. “A Museum’s Culinary Life: Women’s Committees and Food at the Art Gallery of Toronto.” Global Food Histories 2.2 (2016).
—. “Critical Eating: Tasting Museum Stories on Restaurant Menus.” Food, Culture & Society 19.2 (2016): 317-336.
—. Feminist Media Studies, Special issue: Feminist Contributions to Cultural Policy 7.4 (2007): 397- 411.
Mihalache, I. D. ‘“Museum Restaurants and Modern Art.” In The Handbook of Food and Popular Culture, Peter Naccarato and Katie LeBesco, eds. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academics, [Forthcoming 2017].
Levent, N. & Mihalache, I. D. “Introduction: Re-thinking Museums through Food (and Food through Museums).” In Food and Museums, Irina D. Mihalache & Nina Levent, eds. London: Bloomsbury Academics, [Forthcoming 2016].
Mihalache I. D., Baird, E., Kovac, R., & Wranich, B “Feasting on History in Toronto’s Fort York National Historic Site.” In Food and Museums, Irina D. Mihalache & Nina Levent, eds. London: Bloomsbury Academics, [Forthcoming 2016].
— and Driver, L. “From Georgian Dinners to Dinner with Dickens: “Don’t Preserve the Historic Kitchen! Go into the Historic kitchen!” In Food and Museums, Irina D. Mihalache & Nina Levent, eds. London: Bloomsbury Academics, [Forthcoming 2016].
—. “Of Men and Cupcakes: Baking identities on Food Network.” In How Canadians Communicate About Food: Food Promotion, Consumption and Controversy, Charlene Elliott, ed. Edmonton: Athabasca University Press, 2016: (129-144).
—. “Taste-full Museums: Educating the Senses One Plate at a Time.” In The Multisensory Museum: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Touch, Sound, Smell, Memory and Space, Nina Levent and Alvaro Pascual-Leone, eds. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2014: 197-212.
—. “Museums, Consumption and the Everyday: Encountering the Colonial ‘Other’ Through Food.” In Food and Everyday Life, Thomas Conroy, ed. Lanham: Lexington Press, 2014: 59-83.
—. “The Other’s Dishes: Contrapuntal Histories, Invented Cuisines, Inauthentic Ingredients.” In Counterpoints: Edward Said’s Legacy, Stephanie Tara Schwartz and May Telmissany, eds. London: Cambridge Scholars, 2010: 167-174.
Nicole Ritchie. “Queering museums: Questions of Space, Affect and the (Non)normative.” 2015.
Camille-Mary Sharp. “Corporate Funding in Museums: Negotiating Curatorial Practices.” In progress.
Exhibitions, Interpretation, Communication
Global Cultures and Museums
Interpretation and Meaning Making in Cultural Institutions
The Material Culture of Food