Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects Made with Lego Bricks exhibit was so popular in 2018, it’s making a return appearance from May 27 through September 4 at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester.
Adults and children alike will be mesmerized by the larger-than-life sculptures made entirely of Lego bricks, from the mama polar bear shielding her cubs to the hummingbird gingerly sipping nectar from a flower while poised in midair.
“The outdoor exhibit contains 14 sculptures this year, many placed where it makes sense in nature,” says Julie Armel, deputy director of marketing and communications. “For example, the monarch butterfly seems to have landed on a flowering bush.”
A self-described “Lego maniac” from a young age, Kenney began sculpting with Legos in 2005. He started taking his exhibitions on tour in 2012, and his sculptures have since been enjoyed everywhere from the U.S. and Canada to Europe, Southeast Asia, and China.
Kenney’s designs start at his desk, as he manipulates Lego pieces and sketches each sculpture from photos, not through computer models. He confers with his team of artists in his Brooklyn, New York, art studio as they create each sculpture.
Several artists will collaborate on different parts of a sculpture to determine how they can place the square and rectangular bricks to sculpt the rounded body of, for example, a fox on the hunt. Kenney is determined to create accurate sculptures that demonstrate muscle in movement and the gravity-defying poses of animals poised in midair.
Kenney uses only regular Lego bricks just like those sold in stores, although he does buy them in bulk. He goes through as many as 400,000 Lego bricks every year. (And for the record: He has never been employed by or affiliated with Lego.) Once he finishes a sculpture, he glues the pieces together and fortifies them with metal braces so they will hold up as they are packed, shipped, unpacked, and displayed throughout the world.
Wherever the exhibit goes, viewers are challenged to think about how the interconnected structure of Lego bricks relates to our interconnected world and to explore themes like nature, ecology, and conservation.
Need to Know
Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects Made with Lego Bricks exhibit
May 27 to September 4
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley: 901 Amherst St., Winchester
Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
$15 Adults, $10 Seniors, $10 ages 13–18, $5 ages 5–12, Free 4 and under and MSV members
This story originally ran in our May issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine.