• Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Build It!

ByTom MacLeod

Feb 8, 2016

The National Museum, Grand Gallery: Until 17th April

As part of the 2016 Festival of Architecture, celebrating the “fantastically built environment of Scotland’, the National Museum of Scotland is hosting an exhibition in collaboration with renowned full-time Lego artist Warren Elsmore. Elsmore’s first project, a three metre long replica of the Forth Road bridge, was displayed in the Museum three years ago. He returns with an exhibition that demonstrates the versatility and fun of Lego, and which he hopes will inspire children to build and create.

The exhibition itself is located in the wonderfully spacious and bright Grand Gallery of the National Museum. It features five glass cases containing various Lego structures, alongside information placards explaining the history of Lego and its modern uses as well as a section where children can build and display their work.

Each of the five display boxes has its own theme. ‘The Ancient World’ contains beautifully intricate replicas of the Colosseum, Zeus’ temple and a Mayan pyramid; while ‘Transport’ showcases, amongst other things, a double-decker bus, a Hong Kong junk boat and a Goodyear blimp, which is about the same size as one of the children looking at it.Even larger, however, are the Empire State Building and Auckland Sky Tower in ‘Skyscrapers’. This also includes a replica of the Petronas towers built entirely out of the tiny round plate bits of Lego that no one really knew what to do with as a kid.

Another section is devoted to structures with a UK theme: there is the standard red phone box and Buckingham Palace, but also a traditional Edinburgh tenement building and and Anthony Gormley’s ‘Angel of the North’ sculpture. ‘Around the World’ rounds off the exhibition with a display containing buildings from around the world. The Arc de Triomphe was a favourite; Elsmore even included a little Lego Napoleon being crowned by the angel of Victory in one of the pillars.

It is hard not to admire the intricacy of the pieces, or to think about the number of man-hours that must have gone into planning and painstakingly placing each brick in the correct place. Elsmore is obviously devoted to his craft, and the enjoyment that he must derive from it shines through.

It is a quirky little exhibition which juxtaposes well with the rest of the museum’s weightier exhibits, and children will naturally enjoy the interactive aspect of it. However, there is something for the grown-ups too, who might fondly remember the afternoons spent working on over-ambitious Lego projects, or just appreciate the architectural finesse required to make such sophisticated structures through the medium of Lego.

Image Credit: Warren Elsemore

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