8 Instagram-Ready Art Attractions That Prove the Museum of Ice Cream Was Just the Beginning

From egg-based photo ops to literal eye candy, here are the latest iterations of the pop-up sensation.

From left, images courtesy of The Museum of Ice Cream; Candytopia; the Dream Machine; and Happy Place.

Many have lamented, few have praised, but everyone is beginning to notice that rather than a fleeting trend, the spate of Instagram-centric art experiences is now a bona fide industry—and according to the Atlantic, a hot area of employment for the post-Millennial generation. In the age of what artnet New’s critic Ben Davis calls Big Fun Art, the most popular way to consume culture is through these immersive, fun, photo-friendly installations where the barrier to entry may be time and money, but not any particular command or interest in art history.

In our minds, the wellspring of this candy-colored cultural vogue is the Museum of Ice Cream. The MOIC’s colossal success—it just won a Webby Award for Best Overall Social Presence (Brand)—has inspired a raft of other such attractions, veritable Pinterest boards come to life. The Museum of Ice Cream debuted in the summer of 2016 as a pop-up in NYC’s Meatpacking District, the brainchild of Parsons grad Maryellis Bunn and former Wall Street vet Manish Vora; since then the duo have brought their curated confection to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami, with plans to expand further.

Maryellis Bunn in the Museum of Ice Cream’s trademark Sprinkle Pool. Courtesy of the Museum of Ice Cream.

The MOIC’s formula has struck a chord with creative-producers who are replicating everything from the limited quantity of tickets (at $38 a pop), photogenic color palette, and flattering lighting for their own ventures. The piece de resistance, the proverbial cherry on top, is to have a giant container filled with adorably miniature objects where visitors can romp, make snow angels, and live out childhood fantasies of Willy Wonka-style surreality.

What are essentially curated stage sets are cropping up from coast to coast. In June, the avocado-themed attraction known as the CADO is set to open in San Diego, while New York is expecting the debut Museum of Candy from the Kardashian-endorsed Sugar Factory. Below, a selection of the most memorable ventures competing for space in your feed, from across the country.

New York & Los Angeles

Image via Instagram @29rooms, photo: @mattcrump.

Backstory: The lifestyle media site Refinery29 launched 29Rooms in 2015, and while it was technically the first of its kind, the original plan was as a one-off to celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary with 29 artistically themed rooms, and it wasn’t open to the general public.

Thanks to what creative director Albie Hueston described as “this huge social halo,” the team asked creatives from socially-driven organizations like Planned Parenthood, the Women’s March, and Hyphen-Labs, plus bold faced names like Emma Roberts, Solange Knowles, Jake Gyllenhal, and Petra Collins, to take part in the now massively-popular event. The result has been a runaway success, triggering a reported half billion “social interactions.”

Social Stats: @29rooms: 90.9k followers

Cost: $19

Highlights: Thanks to the participation of mission-driven, attention-grabbing names and some bonafide artists, this is probably the most truly arty attraction of the list.

San Francisco

Image via Color Factory Facebook.

The Backstory: In August 2017, blogger Jordan Ferney teamed up with artist Leah Rosenberg and designer Erin Jang to create a rainbow-hued romp in San Francisco. The enterprise soon inked partnerships with Geronimo Balloons—the company behind balloon-swathed installations around New York and Los Angeles—and local artists, got backing from corporate entities, and has been an Insta-fixture ever since.

Social Stats: @colorfactoryco: 105k followers

Cost: $35

Highlights: The snap-worthy ball pit containing more than 200,000 yellow orbs comes with a camera suspended from the ceiling to ensure prime selfie angles, an installation of 100,000 ribbon strips, and all manner of colorful backdrops across 17 rooms.


Los Angeles

Image courtesy of the Happy Place Facebook.

The Backstory: Jared Paul, an artist-manager who reps musical acts New Kids on the Block and Il Divo, first opened Happy Place in November 2017. The pop-up hit a snag when it was shut down shortly after opening at a warehouse in LA’s Arts District. The event has relocated to the Event Deck at L.A. Live, and will give customers whose initial tickets were cancelled first-go at the new venue, re-opening later this month.

Social Stats: @wearehappyplace: 88.3k followers

Cost: Weekends: $41, weekdays: $34.50

Highlights: The 13 rooms include the enthusiastically titled “Super Bloom Room” and the kaleidoscopic “Rainbow Room,” not to mention the signature “Rubber Ducky Cubby of Fun.” Happy Place also claims to have “the world’s largest indoor confetti dome,” where you can frolic as 500,000 pieces of confetti swirl around you.

Santa Monica

Image of Candytopia via Instagram.

The Backstory: The (self-proclaimed) Hollywood Candy Queen, Jackie Sorkin launched the venture in 2017 in Los Angeles. Described on the website as her “glamorous, glittering love child,” the installation was brought to life with the help of seasoned fabricator Zac Hartog and retail guru John Goodman. Candytopia also ran into logistical issues, failing to get a permit for its Hanger Studios location before changing venues and relocating to the Santa Monica Mall.

Social Stats: @thecandytopia: 50.5k followers

Cost: $30

Highlights: A marshmallow pit, candied unicorns, and portraits of everyone from Willy Wonka to Katy Perry made of granular candy-pieces.

Los Angeles

Image via the Museum of Illusion Instagram.

The Backstory: The Museum of Illusion opened on January 1, 2018, touting a unique experience filled with breathtaking wall murals and maquettes that help reality to slip away from “even the most responsible parent.”

Social Stats: @museum_of_illusion: 34.2k followers

Cost: $25; $75 for VIP tickets

Highlights: Backdrops include perspective-skewing giant sandwiches and landscapes that put the viewer in a “precarious” setting; being chased by meteors, or scaling a mountain. There are convenient markings on the floor to help visitors know exactly where to place their feet for optimal photo-ops (though that illusion where you can pretend to be looking up an enormous woman’s skirt is of… questionable taste.)

New York

One of the rooms inside the Dream Machine. Image via Dream Machine Facebook.

The Backstory: “Inspired by dreams, and made for reality” is the hook luring in the “Instagram-obsessed” families to this Williamsburg-based experience that opened earlier this month. Co-founders Paige Solomon and Gary Johnson met working at the creative agency Magnetic Collaborative, where they launched similarly photogenic live events for companies including Netflix, Facebook, and Nike.

Social Stats: @inthedreammachine: 21,000 followers

Cost: $38 

Highlights: The 10 rooms feature dream and sleep-related themes, like “On Cloud 9,” while others are just eye-candy: “Spin Cycle” takes place in an ersatz laundromat. Imagine actually being able to take your photo INSIDE a laundromat!

Los Angeles

An astronaut taking a selfie. Courtesy of the Museum of Selfies.

An astronaut taking a selfie. Courtesy of the Museum of Selfies.

The Backstory: The founders of the museum, Tair Mamedov and Tommy Honton, created the interactive pop-up event not only to help people take selfies, but to teach them about selfies. The limited-time engagement (April 1st to May 31st) makes a compelling case for the future of the genre: “There are many more selfies with the Mona Lisa than actual Mona Lisas.”

Social Stats: @themuseumofselfies: 5,728 followers

Cost: $25

Highlights: Game of Thrones-inspired Iron Throne made of selfie sticks, optical illusion-based settings in the vein of the aforementioned Museum of Illusion, and a variety of art historical masterpieces retouched to include the ubiquitous iPhone.

New York

A guest at the Egg House. Photo courtesy of the Egg House/Sense Studio.

A guest at the Egg House. Photo courtesy of the Egg House/Sense Studio.

The Backstory: The proprietor of the Egg House is Biubiu Xu, a Chinese-born artist and entrepreneur who conceived of the pop-up as a way to honor her favorite incredible, edible foodstuff. In collaboration with a team from 3T Studios in New York, she launched the House earlier this month.

Social Stats: @theegghouse: 7,082 followers

Cost: $18

Highlights: Ellis the Egg, the pop-up adventure’s mascot, will take visitors through through six rooms designed to crack you up… In keeping with the domestic-theme, the installation is organized like rooms in a house, with a foyer, kitchen, hallway, pool, and garden, as well as a secret room.

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