SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): The Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC) Singapore has the biggest sprinkle pool to date of its three locations.
At 570sq ft, it can host up to 20 people at a time even with safe distancing measures.
The Instagram sensation opens in Loewen Road on Thursday (Aug 19), delayed only slightly by the pandemic.
Founders Maryellis Bunn and Manish Vora tell The Straits Times via e-mail that this first international branch took three years to develop.
"Museum of Ice Cream inspires imagination and creativity for everyone, and we cannot think of a more fitting place to do this than Singapore - a melting pot of vibrant and diverse cultures and the region's well-loved food paradise."
The outlet spans 60,000 sq ft over five buildings in the Dempsey area. The founders say: "We were most drawn to Dempsey because we saw a unique opportunity to transform a historical building with rich heritage into the region's first flagship location outside of the United States."
MOIC, which began as a pop-up in New York in 2016, expanded to other American cities on the strength of its social media success. There are branches in New York and Austin, though the San Francisco outlet has closed due to the pandemic.
Covid-19 has been a challenge for MOIC, which positions itself as an "experium", a portmanteau coined by its founders combining "experience" and "museum".
MOIC Singapore's head of Asia-Pacific T. Pirakash, 32, says it is sticking to a reduced capacity of 25 per cent, instead of the 50 per cent allowed at attractions under the newly relaxed rules. Safety is a priority, he says.
"We've doubled our cleaning routines."
Which brings one back to the famous sprinkle pool. Staff members will sanitise the pool with a mist spray every two hours. The museum has also customised a machine usually used to clean baby carrots to deep-clean the sprinkles weekly.
The pool might look big, but it is fairly shallow and diving is discouraged although photo-taking is encouraged.
Despite the museum's reputation as an Instagram magnet, Pirakash says it wants to encourage real-world interaction. "It's not just about how pretty the place is. It's about developing a relationship with the people who come through the door."
Hence the Singapore outlet has customised its offerings to the local context. There is a room with oversized versions of potong ice cream, a local popsicle, sprouting from the walls and floor.
The famed Housing Board dragon playground gets an MOIC makeover, and the ice cream flavours on offer in the five treat rooms feature offerings such as pulut hitam and lychee bandung.
The ice cream, developed in-house, also come in dairy-free and vegan options so that all visitors can try the cool treats. Pirakash says the current plan is to rotate flavours every three months and once the logistics have been worked out, more flavours will be added.
The museum is also collaborating with local brands, ranging from beer from Brewlander to athleisure wear from Kyra.
"We want to showcase what Singapore is. The idea is that when tourism opens up again and people come here, they are going to learn about Singapore," he says.
Programming will also be ramped up in the coming months, if conditions allow. Pirakash says possible programmes include date nights, which have been popular at MOIC's American outlets as well as a "no phones" night, which offers discounted tickets to patrons who check in their phones for the duration of their visit. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network