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September 14, 2012

Together with Legos

At Wenham Museum, building blocks also build community

By adding one piece to another, Legos can be used to create anything from monsters to towers, from trucks to trees.

The toy building blocks are featured at the Wenham Museum in several exhibits and activities per year, not only because they are fun to play with and look at, but also because they fit the museum’s mission.

“Part of our mission is celebrating popular culture through childhood,” said Jane Bowers, exhibitions curator at the museum. “Pop culture is a big part of what we do because it’s related to childhood and toys, and Legos are the perfect bridge.”

So the museum has added a third program featuring the plastic blocks, “It’s a Snap! Community Lego Art,” which is on exhibit through Oct. 21.

More than 60 unique creations will be on display in an upstairs gallery, which were submitted by amateur and semiprofessional Lego artists ranging in age from 4 to 50.

The show will also include stations with plenty of Lego pieces that visitors can use to assemble their own visions.

Legos were first manufactured in Denmark in 1949, when they were adapted by carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen from a design by Englishman Hilary Page.

Their name is a contraction of the Danish phrase “leg godt,” which means “play well,” and production of Legos in the United States started in the 1960s, according to Bowen.

The Wenham Museum annually features Legos in a train layout, assembled by the New England Lego Users Group, which this year will be exhibited on Feb. 16 and 17.

“They put together a Lego train that fills our entire function room,” Bowers said. “They do that every year.”

The museum also holds a “Lego-Palooza” annually during February’s school vacation week.

“This is basically a Lego-building free-for-all,” Bowers said. “Kids pre-register for that, and we have seatings throughout the day. Basically, it’s come in, sit at a table and use a giant bucket of Legos.”

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