As much as I love ice cream, I was more than a little dubious when someone suggested that I book tickets — months in advance — for the Museum of Ice Cream (MoIC) in Los Angeles.
First of all, it’s a newfangled “pop up” museum rather than a permanent collection. The joint closes in December — although this is the fifth time its termination has been extended due to mass popularity.
As a lifelong connoisseur of museums, it also got me wondering what an ice cream museum could possibly be. Either below freezing or a place where the exhibits are melting.
But I gotta say it won me over from the moment I stepped through the front door (or rather than back door, because the entrance is actually via a graffiti-spangled alley behind the museum).
Kitschy, corny, campy
I expected a kitschy, corny, campy collection. And that’s exactly what the whole thing is. But that very cheesiness is what makes the Museum of Ice Cream so delicious.
Sort of like the first time you glide through “Small World” at Disneyland, you’re immediately sucked in by the bright colors, offbeat shapes and sizes, the retro sound track (60 pop and 70s funk), and the absolute joy on everyone’s face.
And did I mention the treats?
True to its name, they ice cream at the Museum of Ice Cream. In cones and cups. And not only that, but Dove chocolates, genuine Gummy Bears, licorice and other sweets you can either eat on or with ice cream.
Chocolate, bananas, mint
Each room has a different theme — chocolate, bananas, mint and so on. While it’s all about fun and flavors, here and there the museum drops informative little tidbits. Did you know February 19th is National Chocolate Mint Day? Or that Oregon, Washington and Idaho are the nation’s top mint-producing states?
The museum’s crème de la crème (pun intended) is a swimming pool filled with sugary, multi-colored sprinkles. While diving may be discouraged, you can backstroke, butterfly or dog paddle through a sea of sprinkles. Which will be falling out of your socks and underwear for hours afterward.
MoIC is the brainchild of Laguna Beach native Maryellis Bunn — who New York magazine called the “Millennial Walt Disney” — and Wall Street veteran Manish Vora.
Chuffed with their creation
Without doubt, the founders are chuffed with their creation. A museum press release calls it an environment “where people can check their fears, anxieties and social norms at the door” and “create meaningful and impactful human connections with other guest and foster new friendships and memories.”
It may not be that vital to human existence. But since the first version opened in New York City last year, the collection has become a pop culture phenomenon.
Celebrities have flocked to the museum, many with their kids in tow. Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian. Drew Barrymore and Gwyneth Paltrow. Jay-Z and Beyoncé. On the day I visited — at the exact time — basketball superstar Steph Curry was taking his family through the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco.
Melting towards Miami
The next reincarnation of MoIC is scheduled to open in Miami later this year. And the organizers promise that other cities will be soon be blessed with their own versions.
Given the attention the museum has garnered from press and public — and the amount of money they’re raking in — the Museum of Ice Cream no doubt heralds an age of numerous pop-up museums with different themes.
I may have been skeptical before getting my first taste of this 21st-century entertainment form. But I’m ready to savor all sundry of future flavors.