The LEGO Movie isn’t the only thing those little plastic bricks are up to these days. From February 14 to May 11, the Naples Botanical Garden will be overrun by larger-than-life LEGO sculptures with the exhibit “Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks.” Imagine strolling through a meticulously manicured flower bed, when low and behold, a gigantic eight-foot tall hummingbird sits frozen mid-flight, looking like an eight-bit scene from an early-generation video game.
The brainchild of New York-based artist Sean Kenney, 27 different sculptures making up 14 different displays will dot the gardens. Each standing between five and eight feet tall, the sculptures took nearly a half million LEGO bricks to complete. And before you jump to the conclusion that these are some elaborate LEGO kit, each sculpture is made from standard LEGO bricks and spurred entirely from Kenney’s mind, snapped together brick by brick. The first certified LEGO sculptor, of which there are now 11, Kenney travels the world constructing displays, signs, sculptures, even furniture and home accessories out of the bricks. His series of books has made him quite the celebrity in the world of LEGO with a pretty big following with the wee tykes and burgeoning architects and engineers.
The displays set up in the Naples Botanical Garden take a page straight from nature. Stroll in the company of a gargantuan bumblebee, spy leaping koi, play Where’s Waldo with a beautiful rendition of a Victoria water lily among the real thing in the Brazilian Garden, catch a bright red fox stalk its rabbit prey, and flit along with an intricately designed butterfly—there are even sculptures of a lawn mower and a man gardening. Along with the sculptures, signage is setup to discuss the subject’s importance in the natural world and the interconnectedness of the ecosystem, complete with fun facts about the animal or plant and the bricks used in the creation. Be sure to check with the visitors’ center before embarking on the LEGO scavenger hunt and pick up a locator map.
- For more information about “Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks,” visit naplesgarden.org.
- Admission to the Naples Botanical Garden is $12.95 for adults, $7.95 for children; members are free.
For the LEGO fan and little builders in the clan, here are a few important dates to mark on the calendar.
- On Thursday, February 13, the Naples Botanical Garden will host an opening night celebration, complete with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by dinner and dancing. LEGO artist Sean Kenney will be on hand, and rest assured—the food served is not of the toy brick variety.
- On Friday, February 14, Kenney will be on hand at the garden for a book signing from 1-2:30 p.m.
- For the builders under the age of 18, the garden is putting the power of the block in your hand for the Build-Your-Own Creation Challenge. Designed to encourage creativity and outside-the-box thinking, children are tasked with creating their own LEGO creation from scratch—no kits accepted—using only LEGO and/or DUPLO bricks. Sculptures must be registered by March 6 for judging, and will be on display for the public to view March 8-11. The top three sculptures in the Judge’s Choice category will also be some of the star attractions at the Naples Flower Show March 27-29. The maker of the top-seeded creation will receive four tickets to LEGOLAND (two adult, two children) and hotel accommodations. To get more information about the challenge, click here.