Published October 18, 2011
Over the weekend, LEGOLAND Florida, the world’s fifth theme park celebrating the iconic toy bricks, opened to much fanfare in central Florida, about 35 miles south of Disney World.
Among the offerings at this 150-acre park: 50 rides, including LEGO-themed coasters, a Ford Driving School where kids can scoot around in LEGO cars, and several LEGO cityscapes of destinations including Key West and Las Vegas.
Although LEGOland Florida is targeted toward kids aged 2-12, adults will no doubt delight in a trip back to their childhood via the LEGO immersion. And if you can’t make it to central Florida (or are up to your Mickey Mouse ears with theme park madness), check out these other places where you can get your LEGO fix.
Art of the Brick shows, various cities
Some artists use paint; others, clay or bronze. For former New York corporate attorney Nathan Sawaya, the favored medium is LEGO blocks, and as one of just 11 certified LEGO professionals in the world, he’s used millions of them to create incredible structures, including a giant Blackberry phone, half-sized replicas of the two lions outside the New York Public Library, and close-to-life size human forms.
Sawaya’s jaw-dropping work is on display through his Art of the Brick shows, the first major works featuring LEGO as an art medium, now through 2012 at various museums and art centers throughout the country. Each show has nearly one million LEGO pieces transformed into sculptures that are at once awe-inspiring and thought-provoking, many focusing on various aspects of the human form and its transformation.
Says Sawaya: “I often use the male human form to represent the everyman, society, you and me. My hope is that viewers will see themselves in the artwork. … [And] I enjoy seeing people’s reactions to artwork created from something with which they are familiar."
The exhibition is currently showing in Fall River, Mass., and Mesa, Ariz., and Sawaya’s work is also on display in Miami Beach, Fla., and New York City.
National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.
The Empire State Building, Sears Tower and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis are among the 15 architectural wonders constructed from LEGOs at the LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition exhibit at the National Building Museum.
LEGO certified professional Adam Reed Tucker, also an architect who as a kid was fascinated by the Chicago skyline, has integrated his love of skyscrapers with another childhood love: LEGOs. In his work, he hopes to take the intimidation factor out of big building design – and visitors can try their hand at it at work stations next door, creating their own LEGO skyscrapers, condos and houses and displaying them. If you’d rather be inspired at home, pick up a LEGO kit of the White House and other D.C. landmarks at the museum shop.
“Victorian on Mud Heap”
Among enthusiasts, “MOC” stands for “My Own Creation.” In other words, a LEGO building or design made without instructions. Which makes the most recently unveiled creation by AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) Mike Doyle, a New York-based graphic designer, even more impressive. Entitled “Victorian on Mud Heap,” this dilapidated, three-story Victorian house and all of its exquisite details – down to the lace curtains hanging from the windows – are simply marvelous. Built with approximately 120,000 LEGO pieces, it’s the third creation in what Doyle calls his “Abandoned House” series. It and other of his works will be shown in a to-be-announced show in Southern California show this winter. Until then, you can check it out on his website, where he also sells limited edition prints of his creations, which he eventually tears down after photographing them to re-use the bricks.
The Children's Museum of Portland, LEGO Castle Adventure
Now at the Children’s Museum of Portland through Jan. 12, 2012, this traveling exhibition lets kids and adults alike get their LEGO fix while tapping into their inner Robin Hood. Visitors can tour scale LEGO replicas of famous real-life castles, “joust” opponents with foam rubber lances and targets and build their own catapult-proof LEGO wall. In addition, visitors are encouraged to build their own castle-esque creations. The exhibit will make its way through major U.S. cities over the next five years.