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Vanishing Ice offers a glimpse into the rich cultural legacy of the planet’s frozen frontiers. International in scope, the exhibition traces the impact of glaciers, icebergs, and fields of ice on artists’ imaginations – giving another perspective on why ice matters. A world without ice holds profound consequences for plant and animal habitats as well as human culture. One quarter of Earth’s population (1.9 billion people) relies on glacier-fed rivers for life-sustaining water.

Showcasing the beauty, significance, and vulnerability of Earth’s frozen lands, Vanishing Ice visualizes the environmental and social impact that climate change has had on alpine and polar regions. This exhibit emphasizes the value of cross disciplinary collaboration, focusing on programs and projects that have brought scientists and artists together in the quest for knowledge about the complex network of relationships that exist between humans and the natural environment.

Featuring forty-seven artworks created between 1860 and 2017, the show is organized around three geographical regions: Alpine, Arctic, and Antarctic. The artists representing each of these regions capture the unique features of their landscapes, as well as documenting the visible impact that climate change has produced. From early paintings and books to documentaries and photographs made after the turn of the twenty-first century, the artworks in Vanishing Ice make clear what transformations have already taken place in Earth’s icy landscapes, and they urge visitors to recognize the environmental and civil rights issues that are currently at stake.

Expanding on the exhibition’s theme, the Weisman Art Museum commissioned artists, organizations, and University of Minnesota partners to create new work that connects to Minnesota’s own icy climate. Jyoti Duwadi installed Melting Ice, a stacked block ice sculpture, outside the museum’s front doors. The sculpture is designed to melt throughout the course of the exhibition. The ice comes from the company Minnesota Ice Sculptures with a base built by Woodchuck. A haunting sound piece by local artist Kelsey Bosch fills the galleries with sounds recorded from ice. UMN assistant professor of design Eugene Park, his design lab, and the 2017-18 College of Design’s designer-in-residence, Kelly Munson, created a new immersive environment that will provide climate change statistics. And visitors can dig deeper into the topic of climate change with UMN director of the Learning Technologies Media Lab, Aaron Doering, throughout the exhibition.

Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art is organized by the Whatcom Museum. Major funding for the exhibition has been provided by The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from the Norcliffe Foundation, the Washington State Arts Commission, and the City of Bellingham.

Image: Jean de Pomereu, Fissure 2 (Antarctica) from Sans Nom, 2008, Archival inkjet print. Whatcom Museum, Gift of the artist.

Related Events

Friday, January 26

Vanishing Ice Preview Party

Celebrate the opening of WAM’s exhibition Vanishing Ice. 


Friday, February 23

Thoughts on Ice | Seminar

Thoughts on Ice: is a Friday afternoon seminar with American explorer Aaron Doering and the sibling duo behind the Herbivorous butcher, Aubry and Kale Walch.


Saturday, April 7

Slow Art Day and Weekend with the Weisguides

Look art art slowly, watch a documentary, take a tour, and munch on snacks.


Wednesday, April 25

Student Design Showcase

Students from the UMN College of Design create ready-for-the-runway garments, inspired by Vanishing Ice.

Image: Jean de Pomereu, Fissure 2 (Antarctica) from Sans Nom, 2008, Archival inkjet print. Whatcom Museum, Gift of the artist.