The moment visitors enter the Museum of Ice Cream in Miami Beach, they are assigned an ice-cream name. My name? Phillip Maraschino.
“I’m Pepe Nutella,” the black-bearded soda jerk announces from behind the pink counter inside BunnsShake, a 1950s-style malt shop that composes the first room of the museum, a twisting maze of pink-coated walls on four floors in the oceanfront Faena District.
Pepe, apparently keen on theatrics, taps the counter with a flourish, and a trio of creamy strawberry milkshakes roll out on a conveyor belt. Electronica plays on chrome-covered jukeboxes. Cheery employees (one is nicknamed Goldie Sprinkle Swirl) dance on a floor studded with gold glitter.
No, this isn’t a real museum. Descriptive wall text is scarce, and you won’t find a sprinkle of information about the provenance of frozen sweets. Instead, this museum of cool trades in photogenic moments and childhood nostalgia, the cherry-topped memories of summer afternoons and ice-cream cones.
“It’s like going to Disney World, but for ice cream,” says Madison Utendahl, a Museum of Ice Cream spokeswoman. “You may be jaded as an adult, but you get this great sense of happiness, nostalgia and the beauty of tapping into your childhood. It’s a place full of guilty pleasures.”
The museum, hosting a soft opening through Dec. 10 for Art Basel 2017 (the grand opening is Wednesday, Dec. 13), is the creation of 25-year-old New York socialite Maryellis Bunn, who built the millennial-friendly monument to cool treats to fulfill a childhood dream of leaping into a swimming pool filled with sprinkles. Other locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York have already courted Instagram-obsessed celebrities, such as Katy Perry, who recently posted a selfie from the sprinkle pool.
Yes, there’s a swimming pool here. It has a diving board, and is filled with beach balls and 100 million plastic sprinkles. But that’s the final stop, the photogenic icing on the cake. First, visitors bearing ice-cream monikers are steered upstairs into 10 Willy Wonka-esque rooms.
Inside the Fan-Tastic Room, a museum staffer (he calls himself Mango Manny) executes an “Ice Cream Dance” amid rows of ice-cream cones with spinning propellers. In the Melt Room, another employee (Vanilla Sam) serves cartons of Melted Ice Cream, a delicious, vanilla dairy drink. The Safari Room boasts Pepto Bismol-colored palm trees, a banana swing, and tubs of Bing cherries and gummy bears.
The Sculpture Room is filled with oversize pink bonbons, which visitors can stack like Jenga blocks. The walls are covered in vague, uncredited trivia: “cones damaged during production are further ground down into animal feed.”
Sculptures even appear at random: “Pop,” an installation of 2,500 plastic Popsicles suspended from strings, can be found on the rooftop, a picturesque space offering ocean views, patio cornhole and “ice cream Ping-Pong.”
Finally, in the Sprinkle Pool Room, another museum employee, Dulce De Lyly, can sense my awe. She also cautions that bathrooms are in the previous room. “Don’t tinkle in our sprinkles,” she quips.
A pink diving board hovers over the pool of sprinkles. I remove my shoes and stand on the edge.
“Jump in, Phillip Maraschino!” Dulce De Lyly urges from poolside.
I did. I’m still digging sprinkles out of my ears.
The Museum of Ice Cream is open to the public 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, through Sunday, Dec. 10, during Art Basel week, then 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 13-Jan. 22 (closed Tuesdays) at 3400 Collins Ave., in Miami Beach. Admission is $98 for Art Basel week, $38 starting Dec. 13. Go to MuseumOfIceCream.com.
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