Critics say the plastic pieces are littering California streets blocks from the pop-up museums as they’re carried out on the clothes of museum visitors. The plastic material becomes litter and has the potential to end up in the water, a danger to marine life, KABC reported.
“My concern is that they go down the drains and into the bay, where they will be bite-sized for most fish,” San Francisco resident Johanna Sanders told the San Francisco Gate.
The Museum of Ice Cream, which opened in Los Angeles in April and San Francisco in September, is known for its colorful displays, tasty treats and Instagram-worthy photo backdrops.
According to a Forbes description of the LA location, there’s a “gallery of suspended bananas, ... rooms of giant melted popsicles, big-as-you gummy bears and a swimming pool full of sprinkles.” The San Francisco Gate describes its local pop-up as including “a candy garden, psychedelic rainbow unicorns, a pink rock climbing wall, banana swings, an all-pink diner with a jukebox and a sprinkle pool filled with more than 100 million plastic imitation sprinkles. A circular swimming space even has pink floats and a diving board.”
Both locations feature bright pink walls and interactive exhibits.
“All of the rooms in the museum have things you can eat or smell,” KABC reported.
The museums use plastic for the sprinkles in the pools instead of real, edible ones for sanitary reasons. A spokesperson for the Museum of Ice Cream told the Gate the sprinkles are coated in “antimicrobial germ bloc.”
Museum officials said they’re working to address people’s concerns. They’re working with an environmental specialist and also instructing exiting visitors to shake off excess sprinkles at an “air shower” at the San Francisco location, according to the Gate.
But even still, “guests have been putting sprinkles in their pocket(s) as a memento of their experience in the sprinkle pool,” spokeswoman Shelley Reinstein said.
Eva Holman, with the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization, said the plastic sprinkles pose risks that need to be taken more seriously.
“If it's on the sidewalk it most likely goes into storm drains and then into the ocean,” Holman told the Gate. “(And) my 5-year-old would think it’s candy. Why wouldn’t a bird on the street think it’s something to consume?”
“Most plastic has a purpose, like bottle caps and food wrappers,” Holman said. “What is the purpose of this tiny piece of plastic other than a selfie moment?”
The Museum of Ice Cream’s Los Angeles location, originally slated to close in May, has had its close date pushed back five times due to popularity. It’s scheduled now to close in December. The San Francisco location will be open until Feb. 13, just in time for lovebirds to take their sweet someone before Valentine’s day. The museum was set to close in October, but officials extended the schedule after tickets sold out in just 18 minutes.