Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bens, The Legendary Deli: McCord Museum

Bens, The Legendary Deli

June 19 - November 23, 2014

McCord Museum is presenting a new exhibition about the famous deli Bens Delicatessen, the very first of the Montreal's smoked meat restaurants. McCord is a History Museum, yet this exhibition is set as an artistic installation the purpose of which is to capture the past, and to show how that past had been lived at Bens. The exhibition presents over 100 objects, including posters, architectural plans, photos, counter stools, dishes, utensils, menus, recipes, and individual testimonials that recount the history of that unique landmark.

This exhibition had been enabled by the generous donation of Bens' memorabilia to the McCord Museum by the Kravitz family. It is overseen by Elliot Kravitz, shown in the photo below at the McCord's press conference, a grandson of Ben (Benjamin) Kravitz, the founder of the Bens.

Below is the example of the tables and chairs used at Bens. It is interesting to note that the interior décor and the colour scheme was designed by Ben's wife Fanny. She claimed she chose that specific colour scheme because it had been tested to create a great appetite, yet at the same it made people to leave the deli quickly, thus liberating the place for new customers. Fanny also invented a special device just for women: under every table's corner there was a hook for women to hang their purses.

Bens restaurant existed for close to 100 years, from 1898 until 2006, and had been a vibrant fixture of the city of Montreal throughout the 20th century. Its smoked meat, atmosphere, and décor earned it a local and international reputation that attracted many celebrities including, for instance, Michael Jackson and Catherine Deneuve.

Below are additional views of the exhibition.

The last picture offers a glimpse of the famous Poets' Corner with photos of poets who had dined at Bens and were the deli's patrons.

Click on any image to enlarge it.

For more information visit the McCord Museum's website:

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