Visitors to The North Carolina Arboretum can enjoy a fun, toy-filled outdoor adventure this summer at the 434-acre public gardens’ newest exhibit, Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® Bricks. Originally set to open in May, the exhibit has been postponed until July, but will have an extended schedule and remain open until November 1.
“We are excited to welcome back this nationally known LEGO exhibit to the Arboretum gardens,” said Whitney Smith, marketing and PR manager at The North Carolina Arboretum. “Visitors will enjoy some returning favorites, such as the monarch butterfly and hummingbird sculptures, but will also discover several new sculptures, including a colorful peacock and giant dragonfly.”
Composed of nearly 500,000 LEGO bricks, Nature Connects includes 14 nature-inspired sculptures constructed on a larger-than-life scale by renowned artist Sean Kenney. The family-friendly exhibit draws inspiration from the living world and combines play with science to create an inspiring intersection of education, entertainment and the environment.
“Just as LEGO pieces interconnect, everything in nature is interconnected in a delicate balance,” says Kenney. “It is important to me that each individual sculpture attempt to illustrate these connections, whether a predator-prey relationship, mankind’s relationship with nature or even the parent-child relationships you see in the wild.”
According to Kenney, the creation process was different for each sculpture. Some were the results of weeks of brainstorming and sketching by his creative team, while others were inspired by online nature videos. And sometimes, he says, ideas just popped into his head from nowhere.
“Depending on the size of the sculpture, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete,” says Kenney. “And if the model is something that needs to be uniquely recognized, I spend a lot more time making sure it’s perfect.”
Upon arrival to the Arboretum, guests are invited to pick up a special Nature Connects map, which will help guide them to discover the various sculptures that are placed throughout the gardens. Exhibit admission to Nature Connects is free; however, a standard $16 parking fee applies to non-Arboretum members.
“This is truly a unique exhibit that connects people of all ages and interests and teaches them about art and the natural world in an engaging, educational way,” says Smith.
The North Carolina Arboretum is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 393. Due to the ever-evolving situation with COVID-19, please visit the Arboretum’s website NCArboretum.org or call 828.665.2492 for up-to-date information about the exhibit and programming.