Enter The Museum Of Ice Cream: A Sugar-Fueled Instagram-Friendly Heaven
About a third way through the Museum of Ice Cream, I realize I may have a problem on my hands. By now I'm feeling the effects of a sugar rush, and if I don't make it through the exhibits quick, I'm going to crash hard in the middle of a warehouse on the outskirts of the Arts District. I'm weighed down by the fact that I'm trying to scribble notes with one hand, and cup a mound of gummy bears with the other. They gave me way too many gummy bears—I'll have to eat the yellow ones too, because I have nowhere else to put them (maybe my pockets? when nobody's looking?).
Let's backtrack. The Museum of Ice Cream, as you may have heard by now, first started out in New York, where it became an Instagram sensation that gave the Rain Room a run for its money. This Saturday, the museum opens its doors in L.A.—it's touted as being four times larger than New York's, and comes with completely new exhibits, with the exception of the infamous sprinkles pool (which we'll get to in a second).
Housed in a warehouse space, with an entrance that's tucked inside a parking lot, the museum is unassuming on the outside. Inside, however, it's a clash of pastels and high-key colors, and the ice cream motif is played out in an assortment of ways. There is, for instance, a porch swing where you sit on an outsized ice cream sandwich. In one room, the severed marble head of David (or some other dude) has been vandalized with a melting ice cream cone. Lactose intolerant? You'll need a Lactaid pill that's the size of a frisbee.
Certainly, the space is designed to give your Instagram filters a workout. But, in spite of whatever assumptions you have about the museum, the organizers stress that this really is a labor of love and nothing else. "This is not a branded experience. This really was a project to celebrate ice cream," co-founder Manish Vora told LAist. He adds that ice cream has taken on a particular role in this day and age, going beyond the realm of gastronomy, becoming a sort of cultural shorthand for all that is good in life. "Everyone loves ice cream, partly cause it's a such a fast experience. And there's such a particular feeling about an ice cream shop, too. There's the ice cream scooper—every good shop needs a good scooper."
If this is all too much for you, just know that the museum has a one-track layout to direct you to where you need to be. It all starts off with a pink door that leads into a pink room that's lined with pink telephones. You pick up a phone; the voice on the receiver instructs you to "Throw all your grown-up worries out the door," and gives you the lowdown on what to expect. The voice also maintains that he's "one hundred percent not Seth Rogen," even if he does sound a lot like Seth Rogen.
From there, you're then led into the "California Room," which is done up with certain touristy accoutrements, such as a sendup of the Walk of Fame (hey, there's Nat King Cone). There's also a space with bananas hanging from the ceiling, and a room that looks suspiciously like a grow farm, where the "product" is actually mint that's been planted in a bed of cacao husks. As colorful and inventive as these rooms are, however, it's the sprinkles pool that will likely be the biggest draw. It is, literally, a pool of sprinkles with a set of inflatables wading on the surface. If you're worried about the sprinkles getting into your socks (or bodily crevices), you can rest assured, as they're actually plastic and don't cling to your clothes. Also, the "pool" only goes up to your ankles.
Back to the gummy bears that I put in my pockets. In just about every room there's an "Ice Cream Ambassador" waiting for you with a pink uniform and an accommodating smile. Their purpose, it seems, is to turn your bloodstream into a slurry of pure glucose. In the California Room, an ambassador doles out scoops of newfangled ice cream from fine purveyors such as McConnell's, Salt & Straw, CREAM, and Coolhaus x Cuisinart. You'll also find, in the other rooms, a mint chip mochi from My/Mo, black cookie dough served up in cones, the aforementioned gummy bears, and a made-to-order ice cream sandwich that features strawberry pancakes and a mystery ice cream flavor. At some point you think you should stop, but it's hard to deny the ambassadors, who play their roles with an unflagging earnestness. In one exhibit, where cones of black ice cream have been tossed against the walls, an ambassador tells me cheerfully that the room is about introducing "madness and chaos amid an otherwise mundane space."
Will you leave with a newfound knowledge of ice cream? Not really (though I did learn from Not Seth Rogen that ice cream may have gone as far back as the Tang Dynasty in China). But if you're looking to bask in the zany colors of your favorite dessert, and to satisfy your sweet tooth while you're at it, the museum serves as a dreamland of all your most forbidden fantasies.
The Museum of Ice Cream is at 2018 E 7th Pl, Los Angeles, (888) 718-4253. Tickets are $29 for adults (13 and above), and $18 for children (age 3 to 12) and seniors (above 60). The museum runs from April 22 to May 29.