A Sweet End to a Sweet Summer: The Museum of Ice Cream Pop-Up in NYC

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Photos taken by Lauren Reiss
By Lauren Reiss

While the walls were not edible and there was, admittedly, no melted chocolate river, I felt as close to the magical, interactive, sweet fantasy world of Willy Wonka as it gets.
The Museum of Ice Cream popped up this summer in New York City’s Meatpacking District, and it was immediately an internet sensation. Instantly famed for its creativity, enjoyability, and perhaps the most essential, Instagrammability, the Museum of Ice Cream sold 30,000 tickets in just five days. Of the 30,000 people who purchased those tickets, not all left overjoyed with the experience. But none of them had to be rolled out upon turning into a giant blueberry, so at least there’s that.
The museum is designed to embody a deconstructed ice cream sundae: first, a small scoop of the ice cream of the day is served with a helium-filled sugar balloon. Then, off to the Cone Room, where a wall is lined with sugar cones. Between the Cone Room and the Chocolate Room, people are encouraged to add a scoop of “ice cream” to an everlasting vat. It is everlasting because, well, it is not real ice cream. Bummer for those looking for more ice cream. Pretty cool for those seeking interactive ice-cream-inspired art.
Chocolate aroma permeated the air, but beyond that, there wasn’t much going on in the Chocolate Room. It was mostly just build-up for the Sprinkle Room, where Instagrammability is at an all time high. The Sprinkle Room is where museum-goers are permitted to “swim” in a pool of sprinkles. Unfortunately, the pool is in fact not full of sprinkles but rather tiny plastic rainbow beads. Beads which I am still finding in the depths of my pockets and on my bedroom floor weeks later. That aside, the Sprinkle Pool was definitely a highlight. Babies and adults alike could not contain their laughter as they cannon-balled into the pool, threw the faux-sprinkles, and took photos.
I was still shaking the “sprinkles” out of my hair when an employee handed me a berry pill that magically turns sour flavors to sweet. Then, ice cream cones placed on individual fixtures appeared one by one. The pink and blue vanilla swirl was accompanied by two lemons, which, courtesy of the magic berry pill, tasted like a sweet lemon drop. To close out the experience, guests could swing on an oversized ice cream sandwich and seesaw on an oversized ice cream scooper.
All in all, the museum is just that—a museum. I imagine that the people who were disappointed had their expectations set unrealistically high. First of all, the entire experience is a short one; I was in and out in under thirty minutes. Second, most of the exhibits were more art than ice cream. This did not bother me, for I appreciated the artistic, interactive concepts and definitely got my fill of treats. Whether you went to the Museum of Ice Cream and left disappointed or have an insatiable sweet tooth and did not get the chance to go, don’t miss New York City’s next Wonka-esque event: Dessert Goals. A festival entirely dedicated to all kinds of desserts, Dessert Goals will take over Greenpoint on Sunday, October 23, and is selling out fast!