The Museum of Ice Cream might be a fun place for the family this summer but it’s also been found to be terrible for local wildlife.

If you’ve never been to the Museum of Ice Cream, it’s basically one part pop-up art exhibition and one part roving ice-cream parlor. Entering the Museum suddenly thrusts the attendee into a fantasy land of candy, chocolate, sprinkles, and of course, ice cream. Think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, only with more pink and less creepy Oompa Loompas.


The entire thing is a big hit with millennials, who love taking selfies in front of a giant ice cream cone. It’s also a bit hit with celebs. Since the first one popped up in New York back in 2016, the Museum has hosted such names as Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew Barrymore, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé.

But it’s also run afoul of local regulators and environmental activists. You may be wondering how a glorified Ice Cream shop can be bad for the environment. The answer is in the Ice Cream Museum’s signature attraction: the sprinkle pool.

Located near the exit of the exhibit (right before the gift shop, because of course there’s a gift shop) is a small faux-swimming pool filled with tiny plastic sprinkles made to look like the edible kind. They’re not, which is the problem. Those tiny sprinkles collect on people’s clothes and shoes and then get taken outside where they collect in local water supplies.


Tiny plastic pieces were recently banned from facial cleansers in much of the developed world as they pose a health risk to local marine wildlife. The plastic sprinkles at the Museum pose the same risk.

The San Francisco exhibit has already been fined twice for violating environmental waste bylaws. There the Museum is trying to work with city officials to avoid any further fines. In Miami the story is a little different: the Museum has been fined thousands of dollars over the plastic sprinkles problem after the colorful bits of petroleum were found floating in local rivers and storm drains.

Luckily, the Museum seems to have found a solution. First, they put the pool a little further away from the exit. Second, they created a large blower that simple blows off the sprinkles after stepping out of the pool. And third, they have paid staff to roam the neighborhood to make sure no sprinkles escape.

Hopefully the same measures get enacted when the New York exhibit reopens on June 6. But if you want tickets you’re already out of luck. They’re all sold out, but a new round of tickets go on sale June 18, so mark your calendar. They tend to sell out within minutes.