Children’s Museum pledges changes after watermelon salad incident

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The Children's Museum of Indianapolis (File photo)

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis announced Tuesday that it plans to “employ a more robust review process” with its vendors to avoid another embarrassing public relations gaffe like it experienced earlier this month when a “Juneteenth Watermelon Salad” was included on its food-court menu.

The menu item—which was criticized as being racially insensitive and drew national negative attention—had been put out by a contracted food service provider and was not reviewed by museum staff, officials said.

The museum has apologized profusely over the incident, but said more needed to be done to make sure something like it didn’t happen again.

“As a museum, we are very intentional about the content we develop for our exhibits and experiences and the review process they undergo,” the museum said in a statement. “Exhibit and experience content is carefully created through the view of the individuals featured and vetted by a broad range of external subject matter experts and those who have a special interest in the exhibit or event. This situation has shown us that we need to expand this process beyond our exhibits and experiences and that we must be inclusive in this work.”

The museum said it learned “a really hard lesson that oversight must play an important role in every museum relationship.”

The institution, which is the largest children’s museum in the world, said it would “work tirelessly” to regain trust and was “fully dedicated” to making things right.

“Vendors are an integral part of our organization and an extension of the museum,” the museum said. “As a result of this situation, we have learned that we need to employ a more robust review process with our vendors. Our plan is to evaluate our processes and develop a strategy to prevent this from happening again. Once we have this revised process in place it will be shared on The Children’s Museum website and expectations will be communicated to current and potential vendors.”

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15 thoughts on “Children’s Museum pledges changes after watermelon salad incident

    1. It’s just crying shame that people like you don’t realize that when you attach a racial stereotype to a Juneteenth menu then yes, it is offensive. Had it been on just a regular everyday menu there would have been no problems with it. #themoreyoukknow

    2. If the Watermelon salad had a stereotypical caricature on the label then I could understand outrage. But it didn’t. It was a very bland boring label.

    3. So Joe A. It is offensive on some days but not on others. Utterly ridiculous. The PC world has gone mad.

  1. Yes, watermelon salad [particularly with feta] is refreshing and wonderful and enjoyed by many, this commentor included. The salad is neither racist nor offensive. Perhaps a broader selection of items typically served for a Juneteenth celebration in Texas may have been a better choice.

    However, the nuance and appropriateness of the subject menu item given the event and menu history became the offense as Joe A. points out.

  2. We’ve gone too far if watermelon summer served in the summer is considered offensive, regardless of the event. People of all races enjoy watermelon salad. People are just looking for things to be offended by. The Childeren’s Museum should not have apologized.

  3. 2 of my close African American friends shared with me they put way more mint in the salad than most recipes call for. They were right it really takes it up to an amazing level of awesome. So thanks for that.

  4. To those who didn’t see what the big deal was with watermelon salad, would you understand why there would be an outrage if they’d put chitlins on the menu? Or, if instead of painting kids’ faces to look like clowns, they were to offer blackface?

    1. Simply looking for a way to be offended so you’ve got something to complain about. Can’t anything have some heritage attached to it anymore without someone finding it “hurtful”. The African American community has long had many wonderful varieties of foods. Can’t we enjoy them without it being considered racist for crying out loud.

  5. Just think of the out cry if they advertised Tacos and Margaritas on May 5th. Which actually is more aggregious because Mexico doesn’t even celebrate May 5th. Just Americans making fun. (But they sure do hit the spot.)