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Museums Outnumber Starbucks and McDonalds Locations in the U.S.

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If you worry that chain eateries are slowly yet insidiously taking over the United States, rest assured—we don’t live in a cultureless corporate wasteland. In fact, new data shows that our country has more museums than Starbucks and McDonalds locations combined.

According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, there are currently 35,000 active museums in the U.S. That’s twice as many as our country is thought to have had in the mid-1990s, The Washington Post reports. If you’re skeptical of these numbers, know that while the study included big institutions like the Smithsonian museums, it also counted smaller, more obscure affairs—think family-owned exhibitions that earn under $10,000 per year.

The report yielded other surprising finds. For instance, there are currently more museums in Los Angeles than New York, Chicago, San Diego, or Washington, D.C. And even in rural areas, many counties have historical societies, history museums, and other local centers of learning. Of course, not all places are so lucky. Many counties in the Deep South didn’t have any museums at all, although it might be just that they didn't show up on tax records or otherwise slipped through the cracks, and so weren't included in the data.

To see which parts of the U.S. have the most museums on a per-capita basis, check out The Washington Post’s full analysis

[h/t The Washington Post]

  

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New Pop-Up Museum in Maryland Looks at What It's Like Being a Teen Today
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Museums across America explore everything from break-ups to the human urinary tract system. Now, The Washington Post reports that a group of Maryland high school students have launched a pop-up museum dedicated to the modern teenage experience—selfies, schoolwork, and social pressures included.

Located in a vacant restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland, the Museum of Contemporary American Teenagers (MoCAT)—which is set to run from December 6 to December 9, and again from December 14 to December 16—is primarily organized by students at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. Organizers believe it’s the first project of its kind to explore teen identity and culture.

Displays at MoCAT, which received funding through donations and crowdsourcing, will include murals, 30 exhibits, live performances, and 150 “selfie” sculptures molded from clay. Exhibition themes are slated to change daily, and cover topics that run the gamut from unrealistic body image expectations to smartphone addiction and college application stress. Others are more political in nature, examining everything from fear of gun violence to shifting gender norms.

The MoCAT isn’t intended to be permanent, as it’s located inside the future sight of Marriott’s new headquarters. But according to The Washington Post, the students say they’d love to see the initiative eventually gain new life as a traveling exhibition featuring contributions from teens around America.

[h/t The Washington Post]

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A Slice Above the Rest? Pizza Could Earn UNESCO World Heritage Status
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People all around the world love pizza. But the dish has special significance for Italians: It's widely believed that a 19th-century Naples man named Raffaele Esposito invented the modern iteration of the sliced pie. To celebrate this culinary legacy, Food & Wine reports that more than two million Italians have petitioned for pizza to be given UNESCO World Heritage status.

Launched in 2006, UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list recognizes traditional practices and activities around the world—including music, food, and dance—that shape national identity. Delicious additions have included Turkish coffee, Croatian gingerbread, Japanese washoku, the Mediterranean diet, and the cuisines of Mexico and France. Not just any food can be added to the list, however: UNESCO honors (and aims to preserve) only traditional cooking methods that were pioneered by a single nation.

Pizza makers in Naples argue that their wares fit the bill, as Neapolitan pizza was born in their home city. As The Telegraph reports, they also hope that a special UNESCO designation will protect pizza from "food piracy and appropriation." This offense includes using non-Italian ingredients and unorthodox toppings and sauces. (Pineapple, anyone?)

UNESCO's committee on cultural heritage meets in Seoul, South Korea, in early December. There, they will decide whether Neapolitan pizza deserves a spot on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list—and maybe even enjoy a slice or two themselves.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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