Museum of Ice Cream coming to Soho, but some neighbors are giving it the cold shoulder

BY GABE HERMAN Updated Tues., Sept. 3, 3:00 p.m. | Here’s the scoop! Soho will be getting more chill this fall when the Museum of Ice Cream opens on Broadway.

The museum’s home will be a 25,000-square-foot building at 558 Broadway, between Prince and Spring Sts. Founded more than three years ago, the museum, which focuses on experience-based installations, has had pop-ups in several locations around the country. The first of these was in the Meatpacking District in the summer of 2016. The Soho building will be its second permanent location, after one in San Francisco.

The Museum of Ice Cream will be opening a new location at 558 Broadway in Soho. (Courtesy Museum of Ice Cream)

The Soho museum will have 13 installations for visitors to peruse and presumably take plenty of Instagram-worthy photos of. One installation will be called “Celestial Subway,” and there will be a three-story slide and a “hall of giant scoops,” according to a recent announcement.

The museum will also feature its signature pool of rainbow sprinkles for visitors to take a dip in. The sprinkles pool was actually a catalyst for the museum’s concept: Maryellis Bunn, the place’s co-founder and creative director, dreamed as a child of being able to jump into a pool of sprinkles.

“MOIC NYC is a dream that our team has been developing for 3 years,” Bunn said. “Over 1.5 million guests have come through our various doors and given us so much input and inspiration. I want to continue to connect people and create moments of joy through ice cream.”

Bunn added of the new local location, that it “will build upon Soho’s artistic history and contribute to the neighborhood’s resurgence as a place for imagination and creativity.”

Immersive ice cream experiences don’t come cheap, though. Tickets will be $38 per person. Admission includes ice cream tastings and other treats exclusive to the museum.

“We are excited to delight our fans back where MOIC began and continue to unite people through the power of ice cream,” said co-founder Manish Vora. “MOIC NYC is the first of several flagship locations that will launch in the U.S. and abroad over the next 18 months.”

An opening date for this fall hasn’t been announced, but tickets will go on sale Oct. 9. People can also sign up for a waitlist for early access to the museum. More information can be found at museumoficecream.com.

However, some in Soho are giving the cold shoulder to the new ice cream institution, and are concerned, especially, about the possibility of it possibly having a liquor license.

This April, the Museum of Ice Cream was denied a liquor license for its San Francisco location. The space was reportedly looking to serve wine and beer, including with the option of sweet toppings. But the city’s Board of Supervisors denied the request, writing that the liquor license “will not serve the public convenience or necessity of the City and County of San Francisco.”

When the museum was asked about whether there are plans for selling alcohol at the Soho location, a spokesperson didn’t say one way or the other, writing back, “We’re always working on exciting new projects and have big plans, however, don’t have any details to share at this time.”

But Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance, said he believes a liquor license application for the place will be coming up before Community Board 2. He said he had expected the issue to be on the September calendar, but it isn’t there, so it may have been held over until October.

“I do know the neighbors had serious concerns,” Sweeney said, regarding the possibility of a liquor license.

Sweeney noted that the museum would have to meet the requirement for the license by showing that it would serve the public interest.

“I’d love to hear the applicants wangle their way around that,” he said. “The applicant is being disingenuous. If this marketing idea is to return to childhood, why do they need booze?

“I am really piqued that this venture would sully the creative legacy of Soho with inane marketing comments,” Sweeney added, citing the co-founder referencing the area’s artistic history and saying the museum would add to the enclave’s resurgence. “How? By ‘kidults’ sliding into a pool of plastic sprinkles?” he scoffed. “If this operation is so concerned about Soho’s history, why are they painting their facade that awful pink color, not at all appropriate for a historic district.”

The museum also got in trouble last year for its “sprinkles” clinging to people’s clothing and ultimately piling up in storm drains. Fines ensued in Miami and San Francisco. MOIC has said it has since fixed the problem.

“If a liberal, anything-goes city like San Francisco has serious problems with this enterprise,” Sweeney of the museum, “I’d be very reluctant to give this concept any support here.”