The Donald & Barbara Tober Exhibition Room/Conrad N. Hilton Library-The Culinary Institute of America Campus
1946 Campus Drive
Hyde Park, NY 12538
Open: When the library is open. Please check the website.
The Donald & Barbara Tober Exhibit Room plaque inside the Conrad N. Hilton Library hallway
The Donald and Barbara Tober Exhibit Room is on the main floor of the Conrad N. Hilton Library. The exhibit room is open to the CIA community and to the public. The exhibition room has ongoing displays of culinary themed exhibits that cover topics involving the culinary world and food service. This is run by both the college and by students. It is not quite a museum but more of a display room of artifacts that are held by the Conrad N. Hilton Library and its archives.
The Hallway exhibition
The Hallway exhibition
The two display cases are in the main entrance of the Conrad N. Hilton Library and hold more of the exhibition. These are displays of industry pamphlets and flyers plus menus and equipment.
The library exhibition of China pieces
The Menu Collection:
The Tober Room Exhibition space
The CIA’s menu collection began in the small library at the New Haven campus and was used as a reference tool by the culinary students. By 1978, then in Hyde Park, the library had amassed a file of over 3,000 menus which were openly available to students and used regularly in their studies. These menus still remain in the collection and are known as the “Original CIA Menu Collection.” They provided the foundation for the growing menu collection that was later added to by many prominent menu collectors and friends of the CIA.
Seth Bradford and Edward S. Dewey Menu Collection
Craig Claiborne Menu Collection
Roy Andries de Groot Menu Collection
This collection of nearly 800 menus, acquired by the CIA in 1984, were collected by the culinary writer and critic, Baron Roy Andries de Groot (1910-1983), during the course of editing his column, “A Moveable Feast,” for Esquire Magazine. The menus date primarily from the 1960s and 1970s and are from major U.S. cities (many from New York City), as well as Canada, France, Belgium, Spain, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Some menus include supplemental materials, as well as annotations by de Groot or his staff noting the date of visit, names of other guests, the chef’s name, and his evaluations and/or ratings.
Herbert Ernest Menu Collection
In 1987, Herbert Ernest donated to the CIA over 300 menus collected by his father, Semy Ernest. The menus date from 1889-1977 and include menus from restaurants and clubs in New York City, Boston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; international menus from France and Germany; and several menus from on board the Santa Magdalena ocean liner. This collection is rich in pre-1920 menus.
The Greenebaum Menu Collection was donated to the CIA by Henry Greenebaum in 1989. Greenebaum’s father, Michael H. Greenebaum, started the collection and it was continued by his two sons, Henry and Richard. It includes menus from 1905-1988, many international and many from railroads and ships. Several menus are signed by the chef or proprietor.
Donated to the CIA in 1989, this personal menu collection from Chef Auguste Guyet includes over 200 menus, mostly from France. The earliest are a Restaurant Julien special event menu and a Waldorf-Astoria wine list for the 27th annual banquet of the Hotel Association of New York City, both from 1906.
Bruce P. Jeffer Menu Collection
Bruce P. Jeffer donated his collection of 2,500 menus to the CIA in 2013. Jeffer, a California lawyer and wine connoisseur, began collecting menus during his travels as a child. The menus date from 1950s-1990s. Much of the collection is international menus from over 70 countries on 6 continents. A selection of these were featured in an exhibit in the Conrad N. Hilton Library in August 2013.
George Lang, restaurateur and author, donated his personal collection of over 3,000 menus to the CIA in 1989. Many of these menus are international, including often under-represented countries such as Australia, Cuba, Hong Kong, Hungary and the Philippines. Although most menus date from 1950s-1970s, the earliest two menus are from Hotel Knickerbocker in New York City, 1907.
Vinnie Oakes Menu Collection
In 2000, Vinne Oakes donated his collection of over 200 menus to the CIA. The collection is strong in menus from restaurants in Nevada, as well as ship menus from the 1960s.
John Edward Oxley Menu Collection
Chapman S. Root Menu Collection
The Chapman S. Root Menu Collection of nearly 10,000 menus was donated by The Root Company in 2000. The largest collection recieved so far, it includes menus from almost every state (strongest in California, Florida and Nevada), and several foreign countries. The bulk of the menus date from 1960s-1980s, although the earliest are from 1878. Over 3,000 U.S. Railroad menus are an important highlight of the collection.
Chapman S. Root’s grandfather, Chapman J. Root, designed the classic green, ridged Coca-Cola bottle in 1915. At his grandfather’s death in 1945, Chapman S. Root inherited Associated Coca-Cola Bottling Plants, Inc. He traveled a great deal, mostly by car or train, and amassed an enormous menu collection. Friends, knowing of his interest, also contributed to his collection.
Jacob Rosenthal Menu Collection
Jacob Rosenthal, former president of the Culinary Institute of America, donated nearly 500 menus to the CIA menu collection. The bulk of these menus are from food and wine societies in the 1960s-1970s, including Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, and the International Food & Wine Society. Also of note are several international menus from the 1930s-1950s.
The Smiley Family Menu Collection was donated to the CIA in 1982 and 1993, a gift of Mohonk Mountain House. (The Smiley family are the founders and proprieters of the Mohonk Mountain House in upstate New York.) Three generations of Smileys traveled the world, by land and by sea, and collected menus along the way. This collection is rich in pre-1920 menus; menus from historically world-renowned resorts including Laurel-in-the-Pines (Lakewood, N.J.), Haverford Court (Pennsylvania) and Hotel Colonial and Royal Vicotoria Hotel (Nassau, Bahamas); beautifully-illustrated ship menus; and a selection of early menus from Mohonk Mountain House.
The display case in the main library showcases the collection of China and Silverware and decorative objects that are in the collection.
The Tober Room exhibition on “Fat” at the Conrad N. Hilton Library on the CIA campus
The exhibition that they were showing when I came up to visit was “Clarifying Butter: A Cultural History of Fat”. There were a lot of recipes, objects and equipment to make butter, understand the use of fats in cooking, recipes, menus and corporate information.
The description of the exhibition:
FAT. The very word, fat, conjures images of unctuous oils, crispy fried foods and flavorsome pools of golden richness (indeed, medieval European foods that were described as “rich” meant both fatty and foods of the privileged). Conversely, the idea of fat can also make people frown with scorn, concerned over blocked arteries or a perceived moral laxity of a diner.
Fat. as an substance found in animals and oil, as a plant based ingredient, appear across time and place and reveal cultural attitudes and historical changes. At a culinary school, we use fats and oils daily and as eaters, they literally become part of us. While ubiquitous they are never without deep meaning. This exhibit explores but some of the aspects of a food group that is simultaneously present and polarizing.
Both the two display cases and the middle display case were set with all sorts of information through the ages of the subject of fat, fried foods and items used to produce and make them.
The Display Cases in the Tober Room
The Display Cases in the Tober Room
The exhibitions here are very detailed and display over a hundred years of culinary arts research. The displays are revolving every quarter. The room is off to the right of the entrance to the library and is open for free to the public. It is a wonderful way to learn the aspects of food than in one of the best culinary libraries in the world.
A close up shot of the display case.