The Museum of Ice Cream pop-up experience melted hearts in New York, California (and currently, Miami) in the past year. Now it’s the year of the pizza museum. The Pizza Hut Museum has just opened at Wichita State University. The chain’s co-founders, Dan and Frank Carney, spoke at their alma mater in a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception on April 25. The museum will open to the public April 30.
The first Pizza Hut location was moved to its hometown college, Wichita State University, in 1986. Last year it was relocated to WSU’s new Innovation Campus, where it has been turned into a museum dedicated to the history of the world-famous pizza chain thanks to the support of the university, donors and the Carney family, who donated their sizeable collection of Pizza Hut mementos and artifacts to the new museum.
A $1.2 million fundraising campaign by WSU Foundation moved the 500-square-foot original building from its location on campus and kickstarted a renovation project, including installing a replica of the original roof.
A student curator program employed students in academic areas such as history and museum studies to work as docents and update the museum’s content. In addition to showcasing the archival Pizza Hut memorabilia, video screens share oral histories of the store’s founding and the brand’s origin.
In addition to telling the brand’s story—”In 1958, two young Shockers grew their tiny restaurant into the largest pizza restaurant chain in the world. It all started here, in Wichita, Kansas”—the museum highlights Wichita’s past and present entrepreneurial history.
“The Pizza Hut story is the quintessential entrepreneurial success story for Wichita, and it epitomizes how innovation can lead to success,” said Keith Pickus, WSU Foundation vice president for corporate and foundation relations. “We believe its story represents the essence of what we hope to achieve with the Innovation Campus.”
“The story of Pizza Hut is changing lives,” WSU President John Bardo commented. “It’s about willing to take a chance on yourself, about reaching out to your friends, and about caring … That’s the story of Pizza Hut. That’s the story of Wichita State.”
New York City, meanwhile, will be home to The Museum of Pizza for two weeks this fall, when #MoPi will open in Manhattan from Oct. 13-28. While not backed by any particular pizza eatery, partners will pitch in—a testament to the iconic status that pizza still enjoys in a city with an enduring love for the pie.
Billing itself as “the world’s first experiential pizza adventure,” each $35 ticket to the two-week event will include a slice from a guest pizzeria. The space will include interactive selfie opportunities such as an art gallery, a “pizza beach” and a “pizza cave,” all “marvelously ‘grammable” for social media sharing on Instagram and beyond.
“We’re looking at … the reasons why everyone—from the working class to the internet media cool kids and Twitter people—loves pizza so much. It’s less about eating it and more about thinking about it and fetishizing it,” said founder Kareem Rahma.