- Candytopia isn’t like other pop-up museums, in that its displays are made entirely out of jelly beans, gummy bears, licorice, and other candy bits.
- It’s one of a cluster of temporary exhibits cropping up that provide museum goers with the ultimate Instagrammable experience, offering up multicolored backgrounds and interactive displays for the perfect snapshot.
- These photos take you inside the sugar-filled, candy-coated art world of Candytopia.
Leonardo da Vinci crafted his Mona Lisa with oil paint.
The team behind Candytopia had something different in mind for their rendition of the mysteriously smiling lady: candy.
She, and every other works of art in the temporary pop-up exhibit, is constructed entirely out of the sugar-filled stuff – jelly beans, gummy bears, sour belts, licorice, and more twist and swirl into the familiar patterns of the historic art pieces we know so well.
But don’t get too excited – licking or eating the artwork is, sadly, not allowed.
A cluster of these pop-up museums, geared toward Instagrammers constantly seeking snapshots suited for the photo-driven social media site, have cropped up in recent years.
Media company Refinery 29 has hosted its travelling 29 Rooms exhibit for three years now, the breakfast-themed Egg House recently wrapped up shop at its New York location, and the longer-running spectacle that is The Museum of Ice Cream now has a permanent San Francisco location.
The phenomenon has ordinary folk and celebrities alike flocking to the Instagrammable experiences and shelling out anywhere between $US20 to $US40 for a ticket.
I recently took a stroll through Candytopia’s sugar-coated art world at its San Francisco grand opening.
Check it out:
Welcome to Candytopia.
The candy-themed art exhibit was bred out of the confectionery passion of celebrity candy artist, and star of the TLC show Candy Queen, Jackie Sorkin.
Along with CEO John Goodman, who counts executive positions at a number of retail chains in his repertoire, Sorkin has hosted Candytopia in Santa Monica and Los Angeles and is currently operating showcases in both San Francisco and New York.
Tickets are priced at $US34 for adults.
Her candy-rendered counterpart hangs in the opening area of the museum, dubbed the Library Room…
…which gave off some major Willy Wonka energy.
Our guide spoke with a turn-of-the-century cadence and wore large spectacles. It was quite the performance.
At the end of his opening spiel, a large bowl of chocolate candies descended from the ceiling, much to the delight of attendees.
He kindly requested that each person take only one piece. I can neither confirm nor deny if everyone, myself included, obeyed.
We were set loose after that, free to roam the sweets-filled exhibit on our own.
A technicolor LED-lit escalator ride took us down to the official start of the showcase.
These swirly Dr. Seussian guys greet you at the bottom.
Signs are posted at each display detailing how much sugar, how many hours of work, and how many pieces of candy went into it.
Twenty pounds of coloured rock candy and 6,000 gummy bears make up this cool cat.
Guests made a beeline for the swings in a corner, promptly pulling out their phones for a photo op.
If a swing isn’t your style, there’s a mushroom bench crafted out of gummies for your sitting pleasure…
…if you can handle the side eye on your left from a Komodo Dragon decked out in jelly beans and gummy bears.
The Candytopia team wasn’t kidding about the candy mania: sweets were everywhere I looked, from the art work to fake, larger-than-life lollipops displayed along the walls.
Through a white plastic-beaded doorway is another room of sugar-infused art.
This is where candied interpretations of prominent artwork are displayed. Marilyn Monroe’s signature portrait is one of the first you’ll see.
Near the Hollywood starlet is Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night…”
…and a portrait of Snoop Dogg…or is it Snoop Lion? (Mister Snoop?)
Rodin’s “The Thinker” is reimagined with 25,000 jelly beans and green apple gummies.
I wonder if he’s thinking about his blood sugar levels.
Jazz crooner Tony Bennett keeps him company.
On the other side of the corridor is Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” It’s slightly less disturbing conceptualized in 2,600 pieces of candy.
Recreations of Prince (complete with hints of purple because, of course) and Cardi B also grace the walls.
Across from them is Apple visionary Steve Jobs.
He’s donned in his signature black turtleneck, albeit one made out of black licorice.
In the middle of the room sits a Sphinx.
Its headdress, and the rest of its body, is crafted out of 22,500 gummy bears, sour belts, and black licorice lace.
And last but not least is the smizing lady herself, “Mona Lisa,” minus the herds of tourists that usually accompany the original painting at The Louvre in Paris.
The next section was seemingly designed solely for photoshoots.
Guests posed in front of cloud-streaked blue skies and bounced giant Candytopia-branded balls…
…before wandering into a room of underwater-themed figures.
There were lobsters…
…and sting rays…
…and starfish (oh my!)
Predators of the sea reimagined in their candy forms were rendered less intimidating.
It’s hard to be afraid of a Great White Shark when its razor sharp teeth are replaced with rock candy.
I had to remind myself especially with this hammerhead shark that its blue gummy-laden exterior was not for eating.
Another hammerhead’s gaping jaws made for a nice photo, if you dared stick your head through it.
There were some friendlier creatures as well.
Seahorses adorned in jelly beans hung from the ceiling.
Exiting the marine section, you’re greeted by a confetti attack orchestrated by museum workers.
I wonder how long it took this gentleman to free his beard from all traces of confetti.
It’s also where Michelle, the unofficial superstar of Candytopia, is displayed in all her glory.
Her multi-coloured ‘do, fashioned out of eight different flavours of sour candy belts, is a show stopper.
You haven’t lived until you’ve been jealous of a candied unicorn’s mane.
Gold-coloured flying pigs lay at her feet…
…which rest on a green rock-candied ground.
Once you’ve recovered from Michelle’s magnificence, another ‘grammable photo experience awaits.
Visitors stand in front of a Trolli backdrop with a camera overhead…
…and pose as the photo is taken, with confetti falling and cascading around them.
Guests can then collect the photo via email or text message.
Guests had fun posing for the overhead shots, with some laying on the ground underneath the camera.
Workers donned in white jumpsuits help out with giant blowers.
They are also designated photographers for guests wanting snapshots on their phones.
To enter the final chamber of the exhibit, you need to squeeze through two opposing purple inflatable blocks.
It was not comfortable, but it still had me giggling.
A giant notebook invited guests to leave a message or sign their name.
A quote by writer Linda Grayson was scrawled above it.
In the corner was a Golden Gate Bridge seesaw….
…which paled in comparison to the marshmallow swimming pool.
Plushy marshmallow look-a-likes fill the bowl.
After removing their shoes, guests leapt, frolicked, and, of course, took selfies in the white puffy wonderland…
…including Candytopia CEO John Goodman, who mounted the platform…
…and proceeded to belly flop into the pit.
Both he and Sorkin reveled in the pit alongside museum goers.
By this point, if you haven’t indulged your sweet tooth enough, there’s a store stocked to the brim with candy treats for you to buy at the museum’s end. Though with all the free samples throughout the maze, you may not feel the need to.
Candytopia is open in San Francisco through November 30th. Its New York location will run through November 15th.
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