Sixth Floor Museum Opening a Cafe. Let Fly With the Tasteless Jokes, Everyone.

In a bid to reshape Dallas residents' image of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, the museum's promoting itself as a hip new spot to shop and nosh.

The Museum Store + Café, opening July 1, will stock gift items made by local artists and serve coffee and sweets from La Duni;, Dude, Sweet Chocolate; and Kessler Cookie Co. in a 30-seat dining area. According to spokeswoman Liza Denton, the space was designed partly to lure in locals who might otherwise consider the museum a one-off visit.

But does the specter of assassination really make people thirsty? Denton doubts the museum's macabre storyline will color local residents' feelings about the café, which she says has "amazing views."

"With the 50th anniversary coming up in 2013, the museum's taking on a new role," she says, alluding to the institution's expansive mission, which encompasses supporting the surrounding historical district and presenting "contemporary culture within the context of presidential history."

Museums are increasingly treating their canteens as extensions of their collections, subjecting their visitors' edible experiences to the same curatorial care once reserved for oil paintings and wing-back chairs. At museums including The National World War II Museum in New Orleans and New York's Museum of Modern Art, John Besh and Danny Meyer have made style and quality touchstones of a category previously distinguished by limp hamburger patties and cold French fries.

Closer to home, Wolfgang Puck's responsible for the café at the Nasher Sculpture Center, one of a dozen museum eateries in the celebrity chef's portfolio.

"We're thrilled to be partnering with La Duni," Denton says. "It's a great space, and we're really excited."

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