Anchorage Museum Builds Family Fun, Brick by Brick

Two LEGO-crazy boys, the perfect testors for Anchorage Museum's Brick By Brick exhibit.

LEGO people! I love LEGO people!

My friend’s mom kept them on a sheet spread out on her living room floor, and just wrapped it all up at the end of a day. Another friend’s dad built him a wooden box painted bright blue, for his. LEGOs. The construction material of my childhood, and more than likely yours, and certainly that of your children’s. Who would have thought plastic bricks in a variety of shapes and sizes would take the world by storm after a humble beginning in Denmark. Visit the Anchorage Museum now through January 11, 2015, and you’ll see why.

Hands-on from the start, the Anchorage Museum's newest exhibit is perfect for kids of all ages.

A red dress made entirely of LEGOs? Yes, please!

Artist Nathan Sawaya's self-portrait, a'la LEGO.

True to form, the Anchorage Museum provides families with a viable method for exposing kids to both art and science in this hands-on exhibit. It’s pop culture combined with history and spatial awareness in ways I didn’t even know were possible. Two artists provide the artistic twist; New Yorker Nathan Sawaya goes 3-D with thought-provoking, sensitive sculptures, and British photographer Mike Stimpson gives visitors a whimsical look at the creative little LEGO figurines who lend themselves to such interesting poses and scenes. Trust me, you must walk through this little gallery, especially if you are a Star Wars fan.

LEGOs everywhere at the Anchorage Museum!

But for kids, the magic is in the making. An entire room dedicated to free play; building, stacking, creating, watching. Bins of bricks, stacks of books that demonstrate technique and style, and helpful volunteers to offer suggestions while allowing youngsters the freedom to try on their own. Even grownups were mesmerized, especially those who fondly recalled their own LEGO history by jumping in with their kids.

Building all sorts of things at the Anchorage Museum Brick by Brick exhibit.

Allow at least an hour for a full walk-through. For maximum enjoyment of the bricks and exhibits, try attending late in the day or right after school; wait times for LEGOs are short, and during our visit today it was easier to navigate two jumpy ‘tweens around the sculptures without a crush of people. This exhibit requires extra tickets, which range from $12-$20, and during a rainy or snowy Alaska day, will be well-worth the cost. Photos are allowed sans flash.

Free play with LEGO bricks helps build motor skills, confidence, and problem-solving skills.

A wide variety of events surrounding the Brick by Brick exhibit are scheduled October through December, among them: 

A Brick by Brick “Live Build” Saturday, October 4 from 2-4 p.m. It’s a community building time, with Anchorage artist Lacie Stiewing leading the way. This activity is included in general museum admission.

Toddler Time on Saturday, october 25 will focus on a theme of “building” and allows toddlers to use their entire body to sing, dance, and increase motor skills through the use of LEGO bricks just for their size. 10:30 and 11 a.m. Included with general admission.

A MakersFEST will commence on Saturday, November 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Museum. This wild and wonderful building opportunity comes with mystery machines, LEGO art, and all kinds of opportunities to see what ‘Makers’ do. Included with general admission.

Winter Break Mini-Swap on Tuesday December 30 is a great way to trade in a LEGO mini figure with others, then customize the creation. Included with general admission.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a few hours together, building family time brick by brick by bright brick. Thanks Anchorage Museum. You hooked us with this one.

~EK

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