Art institute’s ice maze dazzles Super Bowl crowd

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minneapolis Institute of Art opened its first ice maze on its front lawn on Feb. 1 in an effort to show Super Bowl guests how the Twin Cities embrace winter.

The ice maze, open to the public through Feb. 4, was the museum’s way of providing free fun to guests and to promote its upcoming exhibit, “Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty,” among the other attractions found in Minneapolis and St. Paul for the Super Bowl.

Guests bracing the cold temperatures while wandering through the ice maze. Mia welcomed guests to the grand opening of their ice maze Thursday evening. (Althea Larson / TommieMedia)

“We think it’s a fun way to jump onto the ‘Bold North’ bandwagon,” said Kim Huskinson, head of marketing at Mia.

Mia teamed up with Ice Occasions, who built the museum’s ice dragon in 2015, to create the maze in the shape of the museum’s logo with a few other twists and turns, according to Huskinson.

Ice Occasions, located in Ellsworth, Wisconsin, built the maze on site using 300-pound bricks of ice, according to Chris Swarbrick, Ice Occasions owner.

The ice maze was able to avoid melting due to its size and the Minnesotan winter temperatures.

“It’s Mother Nature’s refrigerator,” Swarbrick said.

Once inside the maze, guests will find photos of Chinese robes from the upcoming exhibit, which opened Feb. 3, encased in the walls.

The photos, frozen into the ice, were the only part of the maze created at Ice Occasions’ shop before the blocks were brought to Mia, according to Swarbrick.

Although the maze only showcases robes, the exhibit features many other objects in its combination of art and theater, according to Mia’s website.

“We hope that people will see the images encased in the ice and feel compelled to come back and see the show when it opens,” Huskinson said.

The maze is illuminated with purple and blue colored lights after the sun goes down, making the transparent ice glow.

Opening night’s temperature of minus 4 didn’t stop guests from coming out to see the colorful ice; the maze welcomed about 15,000 guests over its long weekend, according to Mia spokeswoman Tammy Pleshek.

The maze, which is 20 feet long, 40 feet wide and seven feet high, may not reappear after the Super Bowl, but it won’t be the last event from Mia.

“We’re always doing something surprising,” Huskinson said, “Who knows what we’ll do next.”

Althea Larson can be reached at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *