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Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GRAM inspires whimsy with LEGO exhibit

Courtesy/ Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM)

“Brick by Brick: The Creative Art of LEGO” is an exhibit displayed at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) designed by Bricks & Minifigs, a LEGO retail shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The exhibit features “Rainbow World,” spheres made of unique building blocks of the same color. The exhibition also includes interactive LEGO building and other creative opportunities for visitors.

Bricks & Minifigs buys, sells and reimagines the art of LEGO. Their exhibit at the GRAM features a central question: “What does LEGO evoke for you?” It encourages museum visitors to interact with both their hands and minds as they explore the history of LEGO and the structures built by the shop, as well as the ones created by other visitors.  

The owners of Bricks & Minifigs’ Grand Rapids location, Nathan and Julia Petersen, oversaw the concept and partial creation of “Rainbow World.” They hope that people viewing the LEGO exhibit will see LEGO as more than just a toy but as an art form.

“I hope that people walk away from the exhibit experiencing LEGO as something that can supersede the in-the-box instructions that they have,” Nathan Petersen said.

Lydia Wiley, an attendee of the exhibit, associates LEGO with childhood nostalgia and enjoyed the creativity of the exhibit. 

“I think (the exhibit) is cool,” Wiley said. “It takes something that you associate with kids and shows that it can be a really beautiful thing and allows you to express your creativity.” 

Creativity and self-expression are important to the Petersens and all of those at Bricks & Minifigs who worked on the “Rainbow World” display. 

“I think creativity is hugely important for society,” Nathan Petersen said. “Our experiences we all have are unique to us, but creativity can help bridge those gaps and help bring us together.”

The “Brick by Brick” exhibit largely exists to bring people together over the common form of art, nostalgia and creativity. Bricks & Minifigs wants adults and children alike to connect over the colorful pieces.

“It (LEGO) can help people have an experience together,” Nathan Petersen said. “We’re breaking down the (idea) that art is something you put on a wall and don’t really interact with (by) bringing it into this creative space that we all get to be involved with.”

Mary Bowen, another spectator of the exhibition, saw the display as a way to connect on a fun and deeper level with her boyfriend. 

“I think (LEGO) allows people to be themselves and think in a way that doesn’t have to be so concrete,” Bowen said. “I love how (the GRAM) sets LEGOs out so you can build your own creation. It’s cool that it’s an art museum and you still get to put your own take on it.”

Wiley echoed Bowen’s sentiment. Wiley said the building form is important because it touches everyone at a creative level.

“I want to be building (LEGO) until I’m old,” Wiley said.

Additionally, the “Brick by Brick: The Creative Art of LEGO” exhibition at the GRAM features an interactive scavenger hunt. The goal of the hunt is for visitors to locate LEGO minifigures throughout the museum, a task that aims to enhance the exhibit’s purpose of bringing joy and connection to attendees. Those who find eight of the minifigures can enter a prize drawing for a LEGO set. 

“Brick by Brick: The Creative Art of LEGO” will be on display at the GRAM until May 2024.

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