A bubblegum pink warehouse sits nestled amongst the smog and graffiti-plastered buildings of downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District. Beyond its clear glass doors lies a colorful world of art where a Seth Rogen fairy encourages visitors to throw away their adult worries and enjoy the wonders of ice cream.
The Museum of Ice Cream, originally based in New York City, opens Saturday and runs until May 29. The museum is an entertaining escape from the daily grind of life where visitors can sample treats and enjoy ice cream-themed art, but only for those who can afford the $29 ticket price.
The museum begins in a room of pink rotary phones with a recorded message from actor Seth Rogen, providing visitors with some of the history behind ice cream. For example, ice cream can trace its origins back to ancient China. The museum’s ten other rooms are each individually decorated, the first of which is appropriately California-themed.
The California room’s walls feature murals celebrating iconic sites of California culture. One wall is adorned with a floral pattern, another references the Hollywood sign and on a third wall, “Ven-Ice Cream” hangs from a wire, imitating the Venice Beach sign. Pink palm trees and a trampoline also occupy the room, and the floor is a pun-based “Walk of Fame,” celebrating stars like Dwayne “The Rocky Road” Johnson, Strawberry Short Drake, Cherry Seinfeld and Vanilla Ice.
[Related: Museums of LA]
The California room is also the first ice cream tasting station. Guests are provided with a cup of ice cream from local shops, but the flavor rotates every week. The flavor I got was banana and salted caramel ice cream from McConnell’s, which had a strong fruity flavor and a subtle saltiness that balanced out the sweetness of the caramel.
The next room is banana-themed, featuring swings, scratch-and-sniff wallpaper and 10,000 pink and yellow bananas. With three interactive components, the banana room is one of the more engaging exhibits in the museum but, like the rest of the museum, doesn’t really offer anything beyond glorified Instagram and Snapchat fodder.
The museum has also dedicated an entire room to the flavor mint. The mint room is a mini greenhouse in which mint plants grow in cacao soil. The special soil is supposed to infuse the mint with a chocolatey flavor, an attendant said – with a wink and a nudge – before serving me some mint chocolate chip mochi, a Japanese rice cake. The mochi ice cream had an enjoyable chewy texture and the mint was refreshingly crisp and light after the more intense flavors of the banana and caramel.
Other rooms embody themes including sherbet, popsicles and gummy bears. But the later rooms focus more on sculptures of food than the actual eating of it, although a cooler full of edible gummy bears and a tasting station of charcoal-infused black cookie dough await visitors in the seventh and eighth rooms, respectively.
The final tasting opportunity is the “I Scream for Breakfast” station. Concealed workers serve French toast-flavored ice cream sandwiched between strawberry pancakes onto rows of skillets. The pancakes are a soft and intriguing take on traditional ice cream sandwiches, but the ice cream tasted so strongly of its maple syrup sauce that I wouldn’t have known the true flavor had the attendant not told me.
Probably the biggest draw of the museum is the sprinkle pool. Filled with one hundred million plastic sprinkles, the sprinkle pool is a creative and playful concept that seems like it came straight out of a toddler’s daydream but is ultimately underwhelming in person. The pool is small and shallow and not much fun unless guests have friends to throw beach balls and pose for photos with.
For an installation called the Museum of Ice Cream, there are disappointingly few opportunities to taste any ice cream. The museum offers only six opportunities to eat in the museum, and only two of the exhibits provide full servings of ice cream.
However, the Museum of Ice Cream is probably as close as anyone will ever get to visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. It’s a confectionary wonderland of art, sugary snacks and selfie opportunities that may awaken your inner child as long as you’re willing to buy the ticket.