Update: This post was written after my visit to the Art of the Brick at the Mansfield Art Center in 2013. The popular exhibit returns May 7th until August 7th and features some new pieces as well as some exhibit favorites.
My home was littered with LEGO® bricks for years when my boys’ were younger. I can’t count how many times my husband threatened to throw away their entire collection after stepping on a lone brick as he entered their bedroom to tuck them in at night. Those days may be over, but a 50 quart Rubbermaid Storage Tote of LEGO® bricks remain, tucked away in my oldest son’s closet. Many young visitors to our home have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to view and play with what remains of the collection.
When we had an overnight layover in Newark several months ago, I spotted a brochure of The Art of the Brick exhibition in Times Square. How could a mom of LEGO® lovers not notice an advertisement for an art exhibit made entirely from one of the best inventions ever, the LEGO® brick? Sadly, we didn’t have the extra time we needed to visit that exhibit but my disappointment was short lived when I learned that my own small town would become a proud host of The Art of the Brick.
The Art of the Brick is a collection of 3-D sculptures created out of classic Lego bricks by Nathan Sawaya. His art will amaze and inspire you, especially if you’ve ever spent time putting together a LEGO® model. Nathan, who left his profession as a lawyer to pursue his dream, has studios in both Los Angeles and New York City with more than 3.5 million bricks and additional traveling exhibits.
In 2011, The Art of the Brick by Nathan Sawaya was recognized as one of CNN’s Top 12 Global Must See Exhibitions. While I understand an endorsement from myself doesn’t carry the same weight as CNN, after visiting the exhibit this past weekend at Mansfield’s Art Center, I’m likely to agree.
The exhibit shares space with a collection of stunning images from photographer Dean West titled, IN PIECES. Each portrait incorporates the LEGO® sculptures by Nathan Sawaya that are on display.
I loved the In Pieces collection and while my son was fascinated with the 3-D LEGO® sculptures by Sawaya, I was engrossed with the photo/sculpture combinations, particularly the red dress with the trailing LEGO® bricks suspended in the air, what I imagine to symbolize a great gust of wind.
So, what should you know when you visit the exhibit?
1. Watch the short 10 minute video before you begin to view the exhibit.
I’m not sure which I enjoyed most, the video with the artist explaining how he began to create with LEGO®, learning how he followed his dream, or the exhibit. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true, I really did love the exhibit, but the background fascinated me and inspired me- so don’t miss it!
2. The exhibit is for all ages but younger kids may find a couple pieces intense and kind of creepy. “Trapped” is one example that I found fascinating, but creepy. It kind of reminded me of the vampires in I Am Legend. But maybe that’s just me.
3. Visit the interactive brick building area after you view the exhibit where your children (or you) can create with LEGO® bricks.
4. The exhibit isn’t huge, but you will see about 20 – 30 pieces of pretty incredible art. The entire exhibit will probably take less than an hour, depending on if you decide to create in the brick building area.
5. Photography is permitted, but like most museums, make sure your flash is off.
6. If you feel particularly creative after you tour the exhibit, you may consider entering the statewide Brick Creation Challenge. You can pick up a flyer at the information desk, or find details online.
Plan your visit to The Art of the Brick in Mansfield, Ohio:
Address: Mansfield Art Center 700 Marion Avenue Mansfield, Ohio
Hours: Tuesday- Sunday 11- 5 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Cost: $10 for adults; $5 15 and under (12 and under must be accompanied by an adult)
The Art of the Brick will be at the Mansfield Art Center until August 27.
What else is nearby?
Are you visiting from out of town and want to extend your visit? I’d suggest a visit at nearby Kingwood Center (the home is closed for the season but the grounds are open), a quick hike at Gorman Nature Center or a stop downtown to the Richland Carrousel or Little Buckeye Children’s Museum. You can also grab a bite to eat in the Coney Island Diner, Mansfield’s Oldest Restaurant.
Have you been to The Art of the Brick exhibit? Would you like to go?
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