Toy Meets Masterpiece with LEGO® Art Exhibition at OMSI

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One-of-a-kind LEGO® Art Exhibition Makes Pacific Northwest Debut

Lego art exhibition

Lego art exhibition

Here we’re giving visitors the opportunity to appreciate art, but also learn about basic construction and unique ways to use familiar, everyday materials.

Playing with LEGO® blocks will take on a whole new meaning to visitors of the upcoming The Art of the Brick exhibition at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). Opening March 17 for a limited six-week run, the new exhibit will feature the most expansive U.S. collection to date of large-scale sculptures created exclusively out of LEGO toy building blocks by well-known artist Nathan Sawaya. LEGO stylings from other local artists will also be on display, along with a variety of hands-on activities, demonstrations and challenges.

Sawaya’s creations comprise one of the largest and most popular art exhibits currently touring the world. Based in New York City but raised in Veneta, Oregon, Sawaya transforms the popular plastic construction toy into amazing showcases of creativity, innovation and fine art. Like most young kids, Sawaya began playing with LEGO blocks at a young age. Unlike most, he never stopped building, creating and exploring his own imagination.

“I use LEGO bricks as my medium because I enjoy seeing people’s reactions to artwork created from something with which they are familiar,” says Sawaya. “Everyone can relate to it since it is a toy that many children have at home. I want to elevate this simple plaything to a place it has never been before.”

The Art of the Brick visitors will have the opportunity to try their own hand at LEGO brick ingenuity. In addition to “free-build” LEGO and DUPLO® play areas for all age-groups, a series of interactive demonstrations ranging from engineering challenges, artistic endeavors and even robotic programming and testing will take place.

“This exhibition highlights a crossing point between an iconic children’s toy, engineering, and the creative process,” says David Perry, OMSI’s Director of Museum Education. “OMSI is known for breaking down complex concepts and making them fun. Here we’re giving visitors the opportunity to appreciate art, but also learn about basic construction and unique ways to use familiar, everyday materials.”

Exhibition elements from Nathan Sawaya include life-sized statues, portraits, giant chess pieces, representations of the solar system, Mount Rushmore and many more artistic renderings of both real objects and abstract concepts.

The Art of the Brick will be open to OMSI visitors for six weeks only from March 17 to April 29, 2012.
The price of the exhibit is included in general admission. Members are free. For more information, visit For more information on Nathan Sawaya and The Art of the Brick, visit

Demonstrations include:

Engineering Challenges – Given a set number of bricks, visitors:
Build a wall and see how much force it takes to knock it over.
Build a boat and predict how many marbles it can hold before it sinks.
Build a bridge or span and estimate how much weight can it hold or how far it can stretch.

Build and Showcase Your Own Creation – Visitors temporarily display their own art piece or science invention, along with a description card.

LEGO Robots – Visitors program and test their own robot using special programming to create a sequence of actions such as kicking a small ball, wrestling another robot or following a line while moving forward.

Nanotechnology – By building with LEGO and DUPLO bricks using clumsy tools like oven mitts, visitors experience the difficulties scientists face in manipulating microscopic or nanoscale particles.

Architecture – Visitors compare completed models of famous architecture to learn about artistic and engineering aspects of design, then build their own structure with LEGO bricks.

Related events and classes:

Junior FIRST LEGO League Showcase
Saturday, March 17, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. in the OMSI auditorium
Visitors can watch young budding scientists show off their LEGO brick projects at the Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr. FLL) showcase. Jr. FLL is a robotics program geared towards children ages 6-9 and introduces basic design skills through a hands-on approach with the familiarity and fun of LEGO building. Teams of participants research, design, and build a model made with LEGO bricks and moving parts.

OMSI LEGO® Classes:
March 26-30 (Spring Break) at OMSI
LEGO® Extreme! (Grades 2-3)
Students construct trebuchets, cranes and experiment with building the strongest LEGO structure possible.
LEGO Robotics (Grades 4-5)
Students design and program their own LEGO robot while building their construction and programming skills.
Additional LEGO-themed classes for more age groups are available this summer.
For more information on all classes, visit:

About OMSI
Founded in 1944, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is one of the nation’s leading science museums, a world-class tourist attraction, and an award-winning educational resource for the kid in each of us. OMSI is located at 1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland, OR 97214. For general information, call 503.797.4000 or visit

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