Artful Ice Shanties on view at Retreat Farm, Feb. 13-28

Brattleboro Museum & Art Center partners with Retreat Farm in an artistic celebration of New England’s fishing traditions

Vermont Business Magazine Most New Englanders have seen ice shanties on frozen lakes, but few, if any, have seen an ice shanty shaped like a fish—not to mention a stovepipe hat, a wishing well, or a wedge of cheese. The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) and Retreat Farm present all this and more in the inaugural Artful Ice Shanties Design-Build Competition, an outdoor celebration of the delightful possibilities of winter.

Over a dozen artistic and ingenious ice shanties will be on view at Retreat Farm from February 13 to 28. Visitors are encouraged to check them out anytime between dawn and dusk, and to pair their visit with ice skating on the Retreat Meadows (conditions permitting) or walking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing on the trails at Retreat Farm. All activities are free and open to the public. Masks and social distancing are required. Museum staff will be on hand and serving complimentary hot cocoa on Saturdays and Sundays, 10-2.

The inaugural Artful Ice Shanties Design-Build Competition is generously sponsored by Foard Panel, a construction company based in West Chesterfield, N.H.

Among those who have constructed shanties for the event are sculptor Bruce Campbell, artist Myles Danaher, avid ice fisherman Stephen Haisley, Charlie Konkowski, elementary school teacher Rachel Mangean, muralist Craig Roach (in collaboration with Peter Poanessa of Signworx), Slipstream Farm, and Winchester Design. Grafton Village Cheese will present a cheese-shaped shanty.

A panel of local judges will bestow a variety of light-hearted awards at an outdoor Award Ceremony on Sunday, February 14, from noon to 1 p.m. at Retreat Farm.

The Artful Ice Shanties Design-Build Competition showcases the artistic talent and creative ingenuity of the Brattleboro region and honors the enduring tradition of ice fishing at the Retreat Meadows. It is presented in connection with two BMAC exhibits on view through March 6, “Ice Shanties: Fishing, People & Culture” and “Erik Hoffner: Ice Visions.”

“This is something we’ve been thinking about doing for a long time,” said BMAC Director Danny Lichtenfeld. “Years ago, we learned of a similar event that takes place every winter in Minnesota, and we began thinking about how we might adapt it for Brattleboro. Now, with the pandemic driving us outdoors and two ice-fishing exhibits on view at the Museum, the timing seemed right. We’re very grateful that the team at Retreat Farm was willing to give it a go.”

Founded in 1972, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center presents rotating exhibits of contemporary art, complemented by lectures, artist talks, film screenings, and other public programs. BMAC is open Wednesday-Sunday, 10-4. Admission is on a “pay-as-you-wish” basis. Virtual visits to the Museum are available at Located in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro, at the intersection of Main Street and Routes 119 and 142, the Museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 802-257-0124 or visit

BMAC is supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Allen Bros. Oil, Brattleboro Savings & Loan, C&S Wholesale Grocers, the Four Columns Inn, Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, and Whetstone Station Restaurant & Brewery.

Source: BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — 1.28.2021. Brattleboro Museum & Art Center "Monarch Butterfly Migration Shanty" from Art Shanty Projects, Minneapolis, MN. Credit: Mara Koenig/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest. Image license