First things first: the Museum of Ice Cream isn't a traditional museum. You won't learn a ton about ice cream except that it's frickin' delicious, but you already knew that or else you wouldn't be reading this. And at $29 a ticket ($18 for kids), it ain't cheap. Nonetheless, pretty much as soon as the museum opened last weekend in Los Angeles, tickets sold out quick as a lick through the entire month of May.
What it is is an immersive experience, 10 candy-colored galleries with installations of ice cream-themed art and a little bit of science, and samples of sweet, sweet frozen goodness along the way. From the gallery of suspended bananas to rooms of giant melted popsicles, big-as-you gummi bears and a swimming pool full of sprinkles, the whole place seems custom designed to be Instagrammed, while all around you, feel good pop hits stream through the air: "Happy Together" indeed.
Driving through the gritty Downtown L.A. neighborhood – just past the Greyhound bus station – you'd be forgiven for wondering what you were getting into. But then you see a flash of pink, then a pink wall and then a whole pink building, and you know something's different, as if Hello Kitty, the Care Bears and a herd of unicorns ever so daintily sneezed magical cotton candy dust over an entire city block.
The Museum of Ice Cream's exterior is pink, pink and more pink.
It's different inside too. My ever-smiling, almost chirpy greeter made sure I knew that the most important rule here was to have fun.
First stop is a room (pink, of course) filled with old pay phones (pink, of course). You pick up the receiver, and the Ice Cream Fairy who sounds like Seth Rogen but swears he isn't, repeat, is not and could not possibly in any way be Seth Rogen, welcomes you and invites you to scream for ice cream.
In the Museum of Ice Cream's first gallery, pick up a phone and receive a greeting by a guy who claims he's not Seth Rogen.
Next, in the California room, they serve scoops from a different California creamery every week, in front of "ice cream" scrolled out on a mural like the Hollywood sign. A little trampoline on the floor below the mural lets you get airborne for selfies.
A trampoline in the California room offers Instagram-worthy moments before a mural styled after the Hollywood sign.
Another room is fitted out like a greenhouse where, a docent told me, mint plants grow in chocolate soil for – you guessed it – chocolate mint. She then served me a taste of mochi ice cream in the same flavor.
Mint plants at the Museum of Ice Cream grow in chocolate-spiked soil. Image: Kate Gibbs Photo.
Soon you're in a room of giant melting Plexiglas popsicles by the artist known as Baker's Son. In the next gallery, my eyes exploded in a neon-lit riot of gummy bears. Then there's that swimming pool full of what I'm told are 100 million plastic sprinkles...
...and a kitchen where ice cream sandwich pancakes arrive in, you guessed it, pink skillets.
After all the installations and the tastes, there's a fun gift shop carrying jars of sprinkles, ice cream scoops, reproductions of the museum's art, playing cards and more.
Thankfully, admission is limited to 20 people per half-hour; I could see the crowds getting seriously out of hand otherwise. I suspect this also accounts for the hefty ticket price, as do payments to the artists and the enthusiastic staff who seem to be everywhere.
The Museum of Ice Cream was scheduled to be a (wait for it) pop-up, closing May 29. But the opening was so successful that it's been extended at least through June. Those tickets go on sale later this week.
Get yours while they're, um, cold.