Art of the Brick Lego Exhibit


Nathan Sawaya’s “Art of the Brick” Lego exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry employs more than one million Lego bricks, including 80,000 pieces that make up a 20-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. The exhibit of more than 100 sculptures by Sawaya, an American artist, takes viewers through a series of gallery rooms, each featuring a different genre of art.
The first series of rooms features Sawaya’s Lego recreations of famous pieces of art, including Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and Grant Wood’s American Gothic. Some recreations are two-dimensional, but other three-dimensional pieces are surprisingly realistic for Legos.
Further on in the exhibit are sculptures of wild animals, including a tiger, giraffe, parrot, and even an orca. To add an element of realism to these animals, Sawaya took photos of his creations in their natural habitats. In each photograph, a life-size Lego animal mingles with other real creatures. It feels odd to realize how out-of-place the Lego animal actually is within the landscape. This portion of the exhibition also includes the huge Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton.
The second half of the exhibition features a large collection of Sawaya’s original surrealist works, also constructed of Lego. Of these, the most famous is probably the yellow man ripping his chest open, with loose Lego pieces pouring out. Another recognizable piece is a set of three human torsos with a sphere, cube, or tetrahedron in place of the head. While this collection may be odd, most of the displays are accompanied by paragraphs explaining Sawaya’s thought process or inspiration. Other noteworthy pieces include a massive, 75,000-Lego Easter Island moai, a person swimming, and even a wearable red dress (you are not actually allowed to try it on). The Lego dress is also featured in a digital photo, worn by a model on a modern streetscape.
Unfortunately, this family-oriented exhibition is less hands-on than many previous ones at the Museum of Science and Industry. The only interactive feature is the “search-and-find” aspect of the photographs on the walls. A children’s lounge area near the exit has loose Legos and play tables available, but viewers are not permitted to touch any of the sculptures in the actual exhibition. Despite this limitation, Sawaya’s “Art of the Brick” exhibit absolutely blew me away. I strongly recommend you see it before it leaves on September 5.