Today The Architect’s Newspaper toured the soon-to-open Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC) a pop-up space in the Meatpacking devoted to the season’s favorite sweet treat. I popped two Lactaid pills and licked everything.

The space is the brainchild of design strategist Maryellis Bunn and Manish Vora, CEO of Lightbox NYC, a company that creates immersive brand experiences for the likes of Hewlett-Packard and Sephora.

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“The Museum of Ice Cream is about joy, experimentation, collaboration, sharing, and playing together, with some nostalgia, too,” noted Bunn, who harbored childhood fantasy of diving into a giant pool of sprinkles.

The exhibits deliver on that fantasy. Although it would be generous to call the Whitney-adjacent MOIC a museum, it is a lot of fun. One installation invited participants to practice their scoop by digging vanilla ice cream out of a commercial-sized container and deposit it on a gold chalice. Our guide noted that ice cream was invented in China circa 1000 BCE, which is probably not true.



In the next room, Toronto-based Future Food Studio was spinning balloons made from liquid sugar and filled with helium. MOIC staff encouraged visitors to inhale the helium, say something in an elf voice, and eat the sticky aftermath:

Helium balloons at the Museum of Ice Cream

The group also created a cone display for ice cream paired with Synsepalum dulcificum (miracle fruit), a plant from West Africa that temporarily alters how different foods taste. Bright pink vanilla ice cream cones arrived garnished with lemon, which tastes sweet under the berry’s influence. Future Future Food Studio founder Dr. Irwin Adam explained that the exhibit is “art meets ice cream meets taste meets science,” adding that the chemical interaction caused by the miracle berries is an interesting avenue in the psychology of taste.

Sprinkles Pool at the Museum of Ice Cream

The museum’s focus on its vigorous second life online is reflected in almost pornographically playful exhibitions where a visitor can point her phone at an angled ceiling mirror to snap the perfect selfie while diving into the sprinkles pool. The reminders from staff and wall text to #MOIC #museumoficecream reinforced the performative quality of the space.

The sprinkles are made of cut-up plastic beads, the kind you imagine lodged in the trachea of sea creatures, but they approximated their sugar siblings well enough. I braved the crowds (above) and possible foot fungus to dip my feet in the pool:

Sprinkle pool at the Museum of Ice Cream

It felt nice, a colorful response to Snarkitecture’s Beach.

Chocolate display at the Museum of Ice Cream

Over in the chocolate room, visitors were greeted with the rich scent of cacao, Dove chocolates, and a video installation of gushing liquid chocolate set to Lord of the Rings transition music. By the exit, there was a (chocolate milk?) fountain splattering its juices against the back wall and basin. Growing up in a house with old plumbing, the fountain was very triggering:

Chocolate fountain at the Museum of Ice Cream

Pivoting quickly back to the entrance for a Blue Marble Ice Cream vanilla sundae topped with lemon-guava paste, marshmallows, and Froot Loops, I returned to the final exhibit, an indoor playground sponsored by Tinder. The MOIC says the playground—with a loveseat, seesaw, and bench swing—is the ideal place for a first date. To test out the space, I had lined up an actual Tinder date who cancelled last minute, so I had to content myself with watching others try out the seesaw, which is shaped like an ice cream scoop:

Seesaw at the Museum of Ice Cream

Last licks: When it opens tomorrow, the MOIC expects 30,000 visitors over its monthlong run. Tickets are already sold out, but hours of operation and availability will be updated here.

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