Tuesday 9 January 2018

Totally Bonkers

Here, for your delectation, are the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as you never saw them before – constructed entirely from Lego. This wonder of the ancient world was but one of the exhibits on show in what was perhaps the most totally bonkers exhibition I have ever visited.
 Let's Go Build: A Festival for Lego Lovers was on – and proving very popular indeed – at Wellington's Te Papa museum (of which I have written before). Obviously this was one for the grandsons, so we duly paid the exorbitant entrance fee for what is essentially a massive marketing opportunity for Lego, an organisation that increasingly seems bent on world domination.
 The exhibition consists of 50 of 'the world's most iconic landmarks' reconstructed in Lego by a team of specialist Lego builders, who put in 5,000 nerd hours to bring us the likes of Michelangelo's David (life size and unspeakably awful), the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, the Titanic going down (iconic?), the Flying Scotsman (rather good) and, er, St Mark's Square, Venice (of which the less said the better).
 The classical scholars among you will surely recognise the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus [below].
 It was good to see the Ancient Wonders still getting a look in, among all the modern towers, skyscrapers and feats of technology. Perhaps the oddest exhibit of all was an unnerving Mona Lisa - how this was done with Lego bricks alone I cannot begin to think, nor do I particularly wish to.
 The trouble with Lego is that it's fine for constructing buildings and artefacts, but hopeless on organic forms and human figures. The same bunch of smiling idiots with giant heads and robot arms populate every scene, from the Piazza San Marco to the sinking Titanic (where they're in period dress) – and when Lego takes on Nature, the results are risible. The Lego Great Barrier Reef was a garish mess that looked like nothing on Earth. The building blocks of Nature are not, thank heavens, Lego-shaped.
 However, the joy of this exhibition was that it let the young visitors get busy building their own versions of the wonders on show. Sam and I enjoyed constructing a really rather impressive 15-tier pyramid, and both boys had fun rolling little wheeled vehicles down ramps. The visit left me with an unusually severe case of museum fatigue, but it was, er, an experience, and it certainly gave the boys a good deal of Lego-based fun, culminating in the ultimate treat – chocolate Lego bricks. Oh dear, oh dear...

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