Chocolate: The Exhibition opens at Cincinnati Museum Center

CINCINNATI – From kings to kids, rainforests to candy wrappers, experience the global journey of everyone’s favorite sweet treat. Chocolate: The Exhibition is open June 29 through January 6, 2019 at Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC).

Chocolate hasn’t always been a bar. It hasn’t always been available to the masses. It hasn’t even always been sweet. Chocolate: The Exhibition tracks the rich history of the cacao bean, from its beginning as a royal – even divine – Mayan drink to its current role as a romantic gesture, guilty pleasure and global commodity. Follow the history of chocolate and its impact on culture and science from the 10th century rainforest to the modern-day corner store.

Few food items are both so historically and deliciously rich. Vivid environments and imagery, over 100 objects and the tantalizing scent of chocolate await to tell this treat’s amazing history. Explore chocolate’s impact on natural history as you stand beneath a life-sized cacao tree in a Mesoamerican rainforest. Learn about the tree’s unusual anatomy and the different products that can be drawn from a single cacao bean.

Find yourself in an ancient Mayan temple and learn how the Mayas built religious and royal ceremonies around a frothy, bitter drink made from ground cacao seeds. Play the part of Aztec trader, bartering precious cacao seeds for goods. You can also learn the legend of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, who was thrown out of paradise as punishment for sharing the knowledge of the cacao tree with mortals.

Trace Hernán Cortés’s conquest of the Aztecs and chocolate’s new path across the Atlantic to Spain, which kept chocolate a secret for decades. Watch as chocolate is first mixed with sugar, a combination that changed the gastronomic world and taste buds forever.

Get to know the industrial processes that made chocolate everybody’s favorite treat, no longer a luxury for just the rich and powerful. European silver and porcelain servers, vintage chocolate molds, early advertisements and montages from chocolate factory floors follow chocolate’s emergence onto the world stage.

Chocolate: The Exhibition is open at Cincinnati Museum Center June 29, 2018 through January 6, 2019. Visit for more information.

Chocolate. A sweet treat for the mind.

Chocolate and its national tour were developed by The Field Museum, Chicago. This project was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.


About Cincinnati Museum Center

Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized institution and national historic landmark. Dedicated to sparking community dialogue, insight and inspiration, CMC was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2012. CMC is one of a select few museums in the nation with both of these honors, making it a unique asset and a vital community resource. Union Terminal has been voted the nation’s 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects. Organizations within CMC include the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children’s Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater and Cincinnati History Library & Archives. Recognized by Forbes Traveler Magazine as the 17th most visited museum in the country, CMC welcomes more than one million visitors annually. For more information, visit