New Chicago museum brings your inner child out to play — and enjoy some ice cream, too

The interactive Museum of Ice Cream opens Saturday on Michigan Avenue.

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A carnival-themed room in which guests can play and eat ice cream is part of the fun in store at the Museum of Ice Cream in Chicago.

A carnival-themed room in which guests can play and eat ice cream is part of the fun in store at the Museum of Ice Cream in Chicago.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Filled with a variety of interactive games and attractions and icy treats, the Museum of Ice Cream — opening in Chicago on Saturday at the Shops at Tribune Tower — is certain to make you feel like a kid all over again. And kids, can well, just be kids.

Manish Vora, the museum’s co-founder and co-CEO, said the idea of blending ice cream and a museum experience was a purposeful move he kept in mind over the course of the project’s development, given the history of iconic sweets makers in Chicago.

“Chicago is the home of a lot of the great candies and desserts, like Cracker Jacks and Dove and of course Mars and Wrigley,” Vora said. “Candy innovation went viral here.”

While this very pink museum is for all ages, Vora said there was a conscious effort to use clever art and design to appeal to an adult audience.

The “COS-MOIC” cocktail — sparkling wine and sparkling cotton candy swimming in splash of cranberry juice — is available for purchase by adult visitors to the Museum of Ice Cream in Chicago.

The “COS-MOIC” cocktail — sparkling wine and sparkling cotton candy swimming in splash of cranberry juice — is on the menu at the Museum of Ice Cream in Chicago.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“The museum was originally built with adults in mind, and thinking about how we can get adults playing like kids and what those early memories of buying ice cream were like,” Vora said. “We’re using the canvas of ice cream as this abstract vision to ignite joy again.”

Guests of the museum will be taken on a guided tour of the venue/attractions. The tour lasts about 60 to 90 minutes. When it comes to merchandise, think candles, T-shirts, ice cream-themed plush toys, ice cream scoopers and lots more.

Some of the museum’s attractions include the Ice Cream Lab (separate reservations are required) where guests can make real ice cream flavors of their mind’s choosing and enjoy them onsite. Other interactive rooms (there are 14 separate installations) such as the carnival-themed room complete with games; the Museum of Modern Ice Cream that takes you through a brief history of ice cream brands; and a mini-golf room, are included in general admission.

You can play some mini-golf in this ice cream-inspired course at the Museum of Ice Cream.

You can play some mini-golf in this ice cream and sweet treats-inspired course at the Museum of Ice Cream.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Vora said the museum’s Ice Cream Lab is a unique addition to the museum’s Chicago location (other Ice Cream Museum locations include Austin, Texas; New York City and Singapore).

“Somebody came up with the ice cream sundae, the ice cream scooper and the thousands of ice cream flavors — these are inventions that became timeless,” Vora said of the lab. “That igniting imagination for kids is so critical, but it’s also a good reminder for adults.”

The “birthday cake milkshake” is one of the ice cream treats on the menu at the Museum of Ice Cream in Chicago.

The “birthday cake milkshake” is one of the ice cream treats on the menu at the Museum of Ice Cream in Chicago.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

In five of the interactive rooms, guests will be able to try an unlimited variety of treats, such as a classic Chicago hot dog-inspired ice cream, shaved ice and a dipped ice cream cone.

There is also a speakeasy-themed cafe that serves cocktails and boozy milkshakes (should grownups choose to imbibe), as well as ice cream scoops, sundaes and non-alcoholic milkshakes (a menu can be found here).

A speakeasy that has one side serving cocktails and the other serving desserts.

A speakeasy serves cocktails and desserts at the Museum of Ice Cream.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Ultimately, Vora said he feels the museum’s different elements of play will be something for everyone to enjoy.

The Museum of Ice Cream, 435 N. Michigan Ave. To purchase tickets (starting at $36; kids 2 and under get in free), visit museumoficecream.com.

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