The Museum of Ice Cream, the New York pop-up that was at the forefront of the “Instagram museum” trend, is heading to Austin next month. It will open at the Domain at 11506 Century Oaks Terrace, Suite 128 on Saturday, August 21.
The Austin exhibit will have 12 installations in the brand’s signature bubblegum pink; a retro diner with coffee, snacks, and cocktails (think: Shirley Temple soft serve); and a new installation called the “Museum of Modern Ice Cream,” where guests will create their own ice cream-themed art.
The Museum of Ice Cream opened in New York in the summer of 2016 (although co-founder Maryellis Bunn has said the idea was conceived in Austin at South by Southwest that year). It grew to immense popularity, with a permanent location in New York and pop-ups around the country. The 2017 run in San Francisco sold out in an hour and a half.
However, the exhibit has faced rising backlash since its inception. Its sprinkle pool — which had contained tiny pieces of plastic rather than actual sprinkles — was declared an environmental hazard in Miami in 2018. In an email, a rep tells Eater that the sprinkles are now “large pieces of biodegradable plastic and are antimicrobial.”
But the criticism doesn’t end there. An explosive Forbes article detailed alleged abusive working conditions at the installation helmed by Bunn, with one employee calling it a “millennial shitshow nightmare.” A spokesperson for the brand tells Eater through a rep that the article was “centered on false claims.”
In 2020, more public scandal unfolded during the summer’s Black Lives Matter uprisings when Bunn erected a bubblegum pink memorial in front of the exhibit that said, “I scream for...” followed by the names of Black victims of police killings and other violence — with Ahmaud Arbery’s name misspelled. Bunn apologized for this, the mural was later painted black and the preamble erased.