Door left open at ice museum melts sculptures

Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The staff at the Fairbanks Ice Museum is being extra careful coming and going these days.

An ice artist mistakenly left a door to a refrigerated display room wide open earlier this month, causing several sculptures to begin melting. That's left museum workers nervously watching all doors.

''It's just water. If you leave the door open it has an impact,'' museum owner Dick Brickley told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''We were careless.''

The accidental warm spell was the first in the museum's seven-year history.

''We just view it that Mother Nature took it back sooner,'' Brickley said.

Though he laughs about the incident, it diminished several ice sculptures, including a she-wolf, who is much smaller and smoother than she was originally, and her cubs, who now resemble otters, and a bear that was ''lost to oblivion,'' as Brickley put it.

Several leftover chunks of ice were carved into ducks and geese but some of the ice art closest to the door was not salvageable.

An ice artist on his way out one evening several weeks ago accidentally left the door ajar overnight by mistake.

Condensation builds up on the freezer doors and makes them hard to open or close. Temperatures in the display case are kept in the 10 to 20-degree range, with the adjoining theater kept in the mid-70s.

''Over time they will sublimate anyway,'' Brickley said of the ice sculptures. ''If you keep the door closed it's not bad at all. It should last all summer.''

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