Cheryl’s Cookies, chocolates and cheers from his grandfather couldn’t distract my new friend Ryan.
Guided by a blueprint of wordless picture diagrams, Ryan was engrossed in putting the finishing touches on a charming cottage with red-and-white awnings, colorful window boxes and hidden hinges that folded out to reveal a fully furnished interior. Within minutes, a bird perched in the branches of an apple tree. A smartly dressed man in a blue car drove up to deposit a letter in the mailbox. A lawn mower appeared on the front lawn by the swimming pool. A girl with braided hair plopped down to rest in a chaise lounge next to a vegetable patch. Barbecue tongs and a sausage stood ready at the barbecue grill.
When he was finished, Ryan pressed a button, the grill glowed, and I was hooked on LEGO® bricks all over again.
Ole Kirk Kristiansen, a Danish toy manufacturer, developed a new product in 1949 to fulfill his “Only the best is good enough” motto. Deriving its name from “LEg GOdt,” or “Play Well” in Danish, the LEGO plastic brick has a patented stud-and-tube interlocking system that provides almost infinite possibilities for building stable structures. Today, there are over 4,000 different LEGO brick shapes, complemented by brick-bodied minifigures with printed faces and moveable arms and legs. Besides offering unlimited play possibilities for girls and boys of all ages, LEGOs also develop motor and social skills, foster collaboration, encourage curiosity and creativity, and lead to feelings of achievement and pride.
Go to the Columbus Museum of Art and you’ll be amazed by what talented LEGO brick-builders of all ages have created for the fourth year of Think Outside the Brick: The Creative Art of LEGO.
Paul Janssen’s model of The Ohio State University Stadium awaits in the atrium of the museum’s new wing. Janssen, associate professor of physiology and cell biology and an associate professor in cardiovascular medicine at OSU, took over 1,000 hours and more than one million LEGO bricks to construct a scale model of the ‘Shoe that measures eight by six feet and consists of 10 come-apart sections, each weighing about 50 pounds. LEGO minifigures positioned around the stadium can be adopted as a fundraiser for medical research.
Adults in the Central Ohio LEGO Train Club built scaled replicas of Columbus buildings from LEGOs that fill an entire gallery of the museum. In “Columbus Real and Imagined,” the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, the Nationwide headquarters and other Downtown skyscrapers tower over the Ohio Statehouse, the Supreme Court of Ohio and Janssen’s model of the Columbus Museum of Art.
Other features include the arch from Union Station, the lone remnant of the city’s train station that the great Daniel Burnham designed in the 1890s and was demolished in 1979; The Columbus Dispatch building; a “Bricks & Rubble” store that resembles the Barnes & Noble in the University District; a drive-in movie theater showing The Lego Movie; a “Brick Castle” recalling White Castle, the first hamburger restaurant chain that’s headquartered in Columbus; a mini version of Commencing, Todd Slaughter’s sculpture of a giant mortarboard suspended over Rich Street in front of Franklin University; and COTA buses cruising along the streets.
The museum’s 114 volunteer docents used more than 2,800 bricks to create a LEGO mosaic of Schokko with Red Hat, the painting by Alexej von Jawlensky that is part of the museum’s permanent collection.
LEGO creations by finalists in the 2015 Creative LEGO Design Challenge are also on view. See how builders of all ages and experience levels have creatively met the challenge to transportation and architecture, then vote for your favorite. The Ohio History Center will also display works by finalists in the challenge in There’s No Place Like Home, on view from January 13 to April 10.
Across the hall from the exhibit, visitors can build with white LEGOs, display their creations on shelves, and discover a scavenger hunt for LEGO miniature figures like Santa Claus and Bigfoot that are hidden throughout the museum. Kits Janssen developed to make your own LEGO Columbus Museum of Art, as well as other LEGO-themed merchandise, are for sale in the museum shop.
Think Outside the Brick: The Creative Art of LEGO is on view at the Columbus Museum of Art through February 21. For more on LEGOs, see The LEGO Book by Daniel Lipkowitz and A LEGO Brickumentary.