Unpopular opinion: I don’t really love dessert. I’ve been cavity-free since childhood and all the sugary rainbow-coloured treats lining the shelves at the grocery store checkouts have never really tempted me.
But I do really love museums, and when I heard an interactive museum devoted to all things sweet was opening in Australia I was intrigued.
Taking inspiration from the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco and New York, as well as the Colour Factory exhibition, Sugar Republic is a sensory experience for all ages.
The pop-up museum is located in Melbourne’s hip enclave of Fitzroy, and offers an oversized Willy Wonka adventure for everyone – complete with a giant bubblegum ball-pit and lined with locally-sourced art and homages to nostalgic Australian treats.
“I’m a fan of quirky museums, I’ve travelled around the world visiting the Tapeworm Museum in Japan, Smell Museum in Sweden, Sex Museum in New York City and I loved the idea of them,” Sugar Republic owner and creator Allison Jones told Business Insider. “So I got together with some creative friends and said, ‘Let’s do this in Australia.'”
Jones, who has a background in event management while her husband has experience in art, wanted to create a “museum meets chocolate factory” that could make any adult feel like a kid again.
Sugar Republic runs until August 17, and there are plans to bring the exhibit to Sydney in September.
Take a tour of the magic below:
Sugar Republic is housed in an unassuming warehouse.
But inside, the rooms are lined with candy colours and sweet decoration that transport you into a sugary fantasy.
The building is actually the site of the former iconic MacRobertson chocolate factory, which used to be one of the largest confectioners in Australia and originator of classic treats like the Cherry Ripe and Freddo Frog.
But inside you’ll find homages to iconic Australian candies.
You can also sample a sherbet Wizz Fizz as you make your way through the winding rooms.
Many of the installations were commissioned from local artists.
Jones said she wanted to invite food creatives and artists to come together.
An artist’s rendition of an Iced VoVo, a cookie topped with a strip of pink fondant on either side of a strip of raspberry jam and coconut, hangs on the wall as you enter the space.
Classic Aussie slang is also sprinkled throughout the exhibits.
Though this one might be more of a New Zealand thing.
The museum is full of interactive elements.
A giant candy-themed match game greeted us as we came in. Next to it was a spinning wheel of treats which dictates which iconic Aussie snack you can get at the end of your visit.
I got a lamington, a sweet cake covered in chocolate and topped with coconut, which is arguably the most delicious treat of them all.
The best attractions were the ones you could climb inside.
There is a giant gumball machine filled with multi-coloured balls, a massive birthday cake complete with confetti, and an adult-sized ball pit at the end.
Such as this oversized birthday cake
I got to live my dream of popping out of a cake as confetti rained down. It was as fun as you’d imagine.
Jones said the goal with the cake room was to “recreate a sense of joy and excitement of a birthday.”
There’s also an ice cream area that dishes out soft serve.
Giant ice cream pop puzzles honour classics like Golden Gaytime (yes, it’s a thing) and Bubble O’ Bill (a flavored ice cream face with a gumball for a nose).
Visitors also get to decorate an entire wall with stickers of sprinkles.
I couldn’t resist a photo-op.
There’s a rainbow bridge made out of candy.
Not for eating though. I asked.
And a giant magnetic wall with multicolored letters.
I left my mark in this room instead.
Then there’s a wall filled with 547 bags of cotton candy.
It’s called fairy floss in this part of the world. How sweet is that?
Several interactive art installations are dotted around the space before you reach the most anticipated room of all.
Which is the room filled with blow-up doughnuts, a neon light wall, and a massive ball pit.
“Never grow up, always grow down,” said a giant wall mural with a quote by Roald Dahl.
The pit features 85,000 pink balls and several rubber duckies.
Jones said the goal of the museum was to allow people to “leave their adult selves at the door and feel like a kid again.”
As I left, a young boy greeted me with MORE CANDY!
The boy, it turns out, is the owners’ son, making it a fully family-run business.
He also is tasked with manning the confetti cannon in the birthday cake room.
The place really is a wonderland for all ages …
Kids frolicked around inside the gumball machine while their parents played around in the ball pit. Everyone left happy.
And a very Insta-worthy place to visit.
The neon wall is the perfect place to snap a final pic for the ‘gram.
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