Goodbye Polar Vortex, Hello WAM Warmer

Jan 28, 2014

We've had enough of this polar vortex nonsense here in Minnesota. Which is why we're so excited about WAM Warmer, the Pop-Up Northrop event starting this week, courtesy of the amazing WAM Collective. Inspired by the Weisman's spring exhibition, this traditional Siberian chum has a lot going on, so we asked the folks in the Collective a answer a few questions about it. Stop by on your way to class and experience the WAM Warmer!

University Collaborative Ambassadors for Northrop: So what is this giant WAM Warmer we will start to see out on the Northrop Plaza?

WAM Collective: WAM Collective will be building a pop-up based on a traditional chum (pronounced “choom”), a temporary dwelling used by the nomadic Yamal-Nenets and Khanty reindeer herders of northwestern Siberia, Russia. The "WAM Warmer" is inspired by WAM’s spring exhibition, Siberia: Imagined and Reimagined, a collection of photographs spanning over 130 years by 50 Russian photographers exploring the depths of Siberia, never before showcased in the United States. Students will be able to go inside of the WAM Warmer and "warm up" while walking through campus. Once inside, there will be a free pamphlet for each student to take, leading them on WAM Collective's "Campus Journey." The Campus Journey is a collection of hidden gems across campus for students to explore and discover. Students who participate in the Campus Journey will be entered to win a VIP package to the Siberia: Imagined and Reimagined opening at the end of the month.

U-CAN: What was the most exciting part about this project?

WAM: The most exciting part about this project is that we have the opportunity to create an out of the ordinary experience for students on campus to take part in. We believe that the pop-up itself and the Campus Journey will offer surprising insights to a campus that we all walk across everyday.

U-CAN: Any big challenges?

WAM: Big challenges? YES! The WAM Warmer is based on a traditional structure that is built by people who have been trained their whole lives to do so. This is our first time building a warming hut, and for us it was a bit more work than anticipated. The size of the structure is truly what has been so intimidating! The final WAM Warmer will be 12 feet in diameter and uses 14 foot high poles to hold it up! Even though the process has had its challenges, figuring out how to create this structure has been really fun. We can't wait to see it set up on Northrop's plaza.

U-CAN: Tell us about the new exhibit, Siberia Imagined and Reimagined, that is coming to the Weisman.

WAM: Siberia: Imagined and Reimagined is a collection of photographs organized by the Foundation for International Arts and Education. The exhibit consists of 50 Russian photographers with images spanning across 130 years. The photographs chronicle the reality and the myths of a quite mysterious place, Siberia. This is the first time these photographs are being brought to the American public. We think the show offers an "inside look" to this sort of unknown world and actually has allowed us to discover some surprising parallels between Minnesota and Siberia's landscape and culture. The exhibit will be on view from February 1 to May 18, 2014, with a special preview party to celebrate the opening happening Friday, January 31 at WAM.

U-CAN: The opening sounds exciting! What is that going to involve?

WAM: We are so excited about the opening! First of all, if you don't catch the WAM Warmer while its up on Northrop's plaza (or even if you do) you can have a chance to see it again at the opening. The indoor/outdoor exhibition preview party is FREE and open to the public. While inside the museum, guests have the opportunity to preview the show, hang out with DJ Jonathan Ackerman and enjoy a hot cocoa bar. Once outside, you can visit the WAM Warmer, snuggle up to some real, live reindeer, and sit at the ice bar while sipping on speciality cocktails inspired by Siberia. WAM members will receive 2 free drink tickets at check in. More information can be found at

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