Forget Paris: Philly’s Art of the Brick Lego Exhibit [gallery]

art of the brick kissing a hugman
Written by Terry Gardner

Nathan Sawaya’s Art of the Brick lego exhibit is just outstanding. Travel editor Terry Gardner checked it out in Philadelphia. Here’s what you’ll see there.

aNewDomain — When my friends at VisitPhilly told me, “You must go see the Art of the Brick Lego exhibit at The Franklin Institute,” I scoffed. I thought “Legos are for kids. Just like Trix.” Was I wrong. Legos in the hands of Nathan Sawaya are a dream to behold.

I was captivated by a Lego man sitting just outside the exhibit.

Lego man Art of the Brick

Fine Lego Art

And who knew you could use Lego bricks to sculpt Michelangelo’s “David” or Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa?” Seriously, though, you can. Sawaya and The Franklin Institute are helping us all skip the Louvre this summer. Instead, check out the “Mona Lisa and “Venus de Milo” (aka Aphrodite) in Philadelphia. Lego-style.

You also can ditch Egypt, Easter Island and the Big Apple while you’re at it. The Great Sphinx of GizaMoai (one of the heads from Easter Island) and Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” (normally seen at MOMA) are all spending the summer in Philly. Even “Whistler’s Mother” and “American Gothic” are there.

Legos make Sawaya's Mona Lisa bigger Art of the Brick

Maoi holds his own in the sculpture garden.

Maoi Art of the Brick

And here’s Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” reimagined. To create it, Sawaya used almost 4,000 Lego bricks.

Van Gogh's Starry Night re-imagined by Nathan Sawaya Art of the Brick
Kids are gawking at the number of Lego bricks used to create these 3D masterworks, while adults are just gawking. Next to each work, Sawaya has faithfully described the process and detailed the number of Lego pieces used. “Starry Night,” for example, is on a 1:1 scale made with 3,493 Lego bricks.

The Scream plus still life art of the brick

Even if you an art phobe or suffer from Museumphobia, you will probably find this fun, inventive exhibit irresistible. Sawaya’s quotes scattered throughout the exhibit are inspiring, too.

I particularly liked this quote near the little forest of hugmen, all of whom are made out of recycled bricks.

6-Inspiring Sawaya quote_0632 art of the brick

Check out the Franklin Art Institute video about the exhibit and my video at the end of this post. Art of the Brick could well drive you to root around for your childhood Lego collection after you get home. Or maybe it’ll make you buy new ones.

Video: The Art of The Brick at The Franklin Institute

At the end of the exhibit, you’ll encounter a group of Hugmen who are hugging “trees” in a make-believe forest. All these men are made with recycled bricks. Sawaya is known for making them appear in public places around New York City, where the he lives.

Sawaya says he considers these fellows Lego graffiti. Check them out below

art of the brick hugmen

Awkward selfie art of the brick hugmen

Terry kisses the Hugman's elbow art of the brick

You can write on your own little brick.

Terry found the Hugmen quite huggable art of the brick

Terry found the Hugmen quite huggable.

The butt of this Hugman was huggable art of the brick

I spent more than two hours in Art of the Brick and I wish I could get back there before it closes on September 7, 2015.

If I could make it in August, I’d go on Super Hero day, which is  Aug. 6. This is when visitors are encouraged to arrive at the exhibit dressed as their favorite Super Hero.

General Admission is included with the timed daytime admission ticket, which costs $29.95 for adults and $24.95 for children aged 3 to 11. Summer daytime hours are 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily. There are special evening hours from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. after the main part of the Museum is closed. Evening admission prices are $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for kids under 12.

The Franklin Institute is located at 20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Now here’s my video:

Video: Lego Magic in Philly

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Except where indicated all photos and videos were shot by Terry Gardner