The origins of Art Shanty Projects comes from the inspiration provided by unique ice fishing houses and diverse communities that come together on Minnesota's frozen lakes each winter. Founders saw the potential to create an artists' happening in an extreme environment; to embrace and reinvent a beloved cultural practice; and to encourage personal expression and community engagement through temporary structures and performances. The vision culminated in artists gathering to produce diverse, multi-disciplinary shanties and integrated programming on Medicine Lake. 

From its humble beginnings on Medicine Lake, Art Shanty Projects flagship program has been the annual home to more than 20 structures and interactive exhibits for over 100 artists. Attendance has risen from approximately 5,000 in 2007, to 19,000 in 2012, and a record-breaking 40,000 visitors on Lake Harriet in 2018.

Every season in the upper Midwest presents its challenges. Sub-freezing temperatures, snow and frozen lakes, the notorious northern winters have earned its icy reputation. One of the premier on-ice activities is ice fishing; winter anglers drill holes through the thick ice and surround themselves with a shelter to protect against the elements. These shelters range from minimalist lightweight canvas walls to more elaborate set-ups approximating all the comforts of home. In the absence of codes and building restrictions, there is a frontier-like freedom encouraging personal expression and community engagement through temporary architecture.

Heavily influenced by this favorite winter pastime, Art Shanty Projects' On-Ice Program brings hundreds of artists and thousands of curious visitors out to fend off brisk wind chills and deep snowfall in the name of art and community. The frozen surface acts as host and backdrop to a wide range of actions, interventions, happenings, stories, songs, games and more. Artists create a variety of imaginable shanties, engaging the community in anything from knitting to science to karaoke. Explore shanties, interact with performing artists and complete the scene as Art Shanty Projects repurposes the area's best amenity to reimagines traditional cultural practices to transform the landscape in expansive and exciting ways.

Art Shanty Projects embraces the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and our Access Plan reflects our commitment to assuring that all members of our community can participate as fully as possible in our arts events, programs, meetings, facilities and communications.