Apollo Magazine

California chills out at the Museum of Ice Cream

Pop-up ‘museums of ice cream’ are a hit in California – but some locals are giving them the cold shoulder

Sundae painters: visitors to the Museum of Ice Cream, San Francisco. Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Museum of Ice Cream

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

A pop-up museum concept in California has become an wild Instagram hit. With branches currently open in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Museum of Ice Cream is the brainchild of 25-year-old entrepreneur Maryellis Bunn, who launched the project in New York last year. ‘New York has institutions that have been around forever but there’s nothing new’, Bunn told Forbes. ‘I love ice cream. Any day of the week it brings me so much joy.’

And so a social media sensation was born. The two California branches have sold out of tickets (at $38 a pop). With attractions including giant popsicle sculptures, booths in which visitors can sample artisanal varieties of ice cream, and scratch’n’sniff wallpaper, the experience sounds like Insta-influencer heaven.

Nevertheless, the ‘museum’ – a word chosen because it was ‘something people understood’ – hasn’t delighted everyone. Its most popular attraction is a ball pit containing around 100 million tiny, colourful plastic beads designed to look like ice cream sprinkles, into which punters are invited to dive and take selfies to their hearts’ content. But the synthetic sprinkles are apparently sticking to visitors’ clothes and then littering sidewalks across LA and San Francisco – not so much fun, say critics, for the birds that might eventually swallow them…

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