During the holidays at the Columbus Museum of Art, Legos rule.
For the fourth year, the museum is hosting “Think Outside the Brick: The Creative Art of LEGO,” a collection of ingeniously assembled constructions using millions of the plastic interlocking blocks that have entertained children (and adults) for decades.
Returning for the first time since 2012 is Paul Janssen’s spectacular Ohio Stadium, on display in the atrium of the museum’s new wing.
Constructed of more than 1 million Lego bricks, Janssen’s ’Shoe took 1,000 hours — and counting — to build. Janssen, associate professor of physiology and cell biology at OSU, makes changes every time the real stadium changes.
Janssen also built one of the new features in “Columbus Real and Imagined,” the Lego town displayed in a gallery of the museum. Appropriately, he constructed the museum itself, complete with its green-tinged new wing.
Alongside familiar landmarks such as the Ohio Statehouse, the old Union Station arch and The Dispatch building are several other new features. These include an (imagined) cathedral, a strip of retail buildings, a Bricks & Rubble Store (playing off Barnes & Noble) and a drive-in movie theater showing — what else? — The Lego Movie.
A collection of actual or imagined Columbus scenes (The Columbus Dispatch)
Also on view are the works of finalists in the “Creative Lego Design Challenge,” a collaboration with COSI and the Ohio History Connection, both of which also will show works by finalists. At the museum, viewers can vote for their favorites.
And there’s more: Volunteer docents created a Lego Schokko in Red Hat, the museum’s painting by Alexej Jawlensky; and Eric Cacioppo, president of Ohio LUG (Lego Users Group, formerly the Central Ohio Lego Train Club), whose members built the Lego town, has interpreted some famous artworks using the little bricks. Look for Grant Wood’s American Gothic and an Andy Warhol soup can.
Just across the hall from the exhibit, visitors can play with Legos, building and displaying their creations on shelves. And the staff has hidden several Lego miniature figures (Santa Claus and Bigfoot, among them) throughout the museum.
What’s the Lego appeal?
“They’re a very effective vehicle to get people to start thinking creatively,” said Jeff Sims, creative producer at the museum who organizes the exhibit each year.
“Legos are a very common material, and people are comfortable playing with them. And play — messing around — is a great seed for creative thought at any age.”