Jolene Goes to the Museum of Ice Cream
Yesterday, I was privileged enough to visit the Museum of Ice Cream, a playful pop art installation that would make even Willy Wonka smile. Nestled in Downtown Los Angeles' Arts District, the Museum of Ice Cream is a playful, interactive take on the traditional idea of an art gallery. I attended with my friend and fellow girlboss Cathrine Khom, editor-in-chief of Local Wolves. I'm quite a fan of the publication and even more of a fan of Cathrine. I knew she'd appreciate this experience and spare me any judgement when I asked her to take about a thousand photos of me!
Even before entering the museum itself, guests are greeted by exceptionally happy employees, dressed in pale pink and a huge smile. They crack corny jokes, encourage doing "the wave" in line, and ask about any special occasions. While I am not usually a fan of these kinds of gimmicks, I was impressed by their effort to truly create a fun atmosphere. Instead of being overwhelmed by the pretentious efforts to appear hip and aloof, I found it refreshing that silliness, shouting and even dancing were perpetuated all night.
Upon entrance to the actual museum, you're immediately directed to reach into a cart full of Dove chocolate before the photo-taking begins. The moment I entered, I understood why the Museum of Ice Cream has been referred to as an "instagrammer's paradise." The strong presence of millennial pink and quirky decor provides the perfect backdrop for that ~perfect photo we all strive to post on Instagram. Right away, I took advantage of a wonderfully pink and playful wall for my first photo!
In the next room, we were again engulfed in pink. Old school telephones lined the walls, each included with instructions to actually listen to who was on the other line. My phone told me to "scream my favorite flavor of ice cream," similarly to how one of the employees did before we entered. There was a wonderful sense of absurdity between the bright pinkness of the room, the calmness of the voice on the phone and the crazy things he was saying. I thoroughly enjoyed feeling like I had walked right into a piece of pop art!
Next, we entered into the cheekiest room (in my opinion), a play on Venice Beach, Hollywood, and California. There were bright pink palm trees, a cheerful tropical patterned wall, and most importantly, our first taste of ice cream! We got to sample a banana salted caramel ice cream from McConnell's, a California-based ice cream brand that's been around since 1934. I was a bit wary of the flavor, as it is something I would practically never go for, but it was to die for! As I savored my small cone, I took in more details in the room - funny Hollywood stars on the floor with name puns, like The Fresh Pint of Bel Air and Brad Pistachio. After we finished our cones and were satisfied with our collection of photos from this room, we started moving on.
It was time to go bananas! We had come to the infamous swing set, setting for all kinds of cute photos I had seen online. It was a little intimidating, having an audience, but this is where I appreciated the general attitude of the guests. When it was someone's turn, without hesitation, they asked the person behind them if they would kindly take a photo. There was no hesitation on either end, and many of us were handing our phones and cameras to complete strangers!
This may seem strange to older generations, but there was a certain camaraderie that existed between us all; there was a recognition that we all wanted good photos, no matter how many tries it took. No one complained if someone asked for a redo, no one rushed any other person when it took a few tries to get that ONE photo. In front of us, an older person was trying to do a Boomerang for someone but wasn't saving the animations. The man in front of me jumped in and said, Hey! You're not saving those! So he ended up getting the Boomerangs instead. It was actually a really sweet moment, and that's when I noticed that something that seemed shallow actually created some special social interactions between guests.
From there, we continued with the banana theme and entered a space with over 10,000 hanging bananas. It was quite a sight!
Next was the mint room - a cool (yes, pun intended) transition from the warmth and brightness of the banana-themed rooms. We were served a wonderful mint chocolate chip mochi ice cream that matched the pastel room. We enjoyed our small, refreshing bite while we admired the mint plants and cute details in the room. We continued on, enjoying gummy bears, rainbows, pink mirrors and dancing!
One of my favorite areas was the black "ice cream," black cookie dough served on a mini cone. The cookie dough gets its black color from activated charcoal... I wonder if this means I can claim it's good for me?
Toward the end of our journey through the magical labyrinth of sweet treats, we came to the sprinkle pool. My only real complaint is that our time wasn't long enough! While the majority of the Museum is not timed nor is it monitored, the sprinkle pool traffic is controlled. An employee lets limited groups in at a time to prevent overcrowding. Even though the shorter time wasn't as fun, I really appreciated how organized they were and how much thought went into making the whole process smooth.
As for the pool itself - it was everything I thought it would be. In fact, it surpassed my expectation. The sprinkles are two feet deep, so you do sink in when you initially enter. Partnered with everyone's smiles and enthusiasm, it's basically a pit of color and happiness. It sounds cheesy, but it really was fun!
By the way, they weren't kidding when they said the sprinkles would get everywhere! I found a ton in my pocket (later in the evening), in my socks, everywhere! Good thing they're plastic, anti-microbial and washed every day.
Lastly, we ended our sweet journey in a large room with an ice cream sandwich swing, a cute ping pong table and our last ice cream sample - vanilla bean ice cream sandwiched between two pink, soft pancakes. While the room wasn't that impressive (or maybe I was just bitter because our time was ending?), the ice cream surely was. We took our last couple photos and headed out.
Overall, I was not disappointed with my trip here. On one hand, I see how and why many may discount the Museum of Ice Cream simply as a fad or somewhere that provides exceptional backdrops for social media popularity. However, I beg to differ. I can tell that so much thought, design, and taste level went into creating this space. The colors, amount of text, even the music and sequence are all balanced. There are also several more traditional art pieces throughout, playing with the traditional idea of sculpture and even challenging the concept of art. I thoroughly enjoyed its aesthetic and attempt to create a playful experience that still retains some kind of artistic integrity. Sometimes bringing art to the mainstream is not a bad thing!
Until next time,