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LEGO lovers unite at Te Papa

By Erica 19 Dec 2017

Just when you thought Te Papa couldn’t get any cooler or more family-friendly, up rocks a whole lot of LEGO ready to entertain, engage and educate both big and little people.

I popped along to Let's Go Build: A Festival for LEGO Lovers with a friend who was visiting Wellington, as well as my two kids, aged three and five years old. All four of us are LEGO lovers and all four of us unquestionably left even more in love than before we went in.

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As we walked in through the doors, there was a simultaneous `wow!’  from the little people. The whole world in LEGO stretches out before you, showcasing many of humankind’s most incredible achievements. From Big Ben to the pyramids, to the Taj Mahal and back to ancient Greece – it’s a very clever and compelling history, geography and art lesson for all ages. 

Don’t go thinking this amazing exhibition is just for little people. Several generations were nimbly engaged in tile-making at the creation station and grandparents whooped as their LEGO cars won the ramp race. One ten-year-old boy and I had a competition to see who could fashion the most realistic turtle for the coral reef installation (he won, hands down). The DUPLO station was the hit of the day for my three-year-old and he was even inspired to build a (MUCH smaller) duplicate of the Golden Gate Bridge on display.

Video screens throughout the exhibition show how these amazing creations began life as a pile of beautifully organised bricks and how, over many, many hours, they are transformed into an amazing piece of iconic LEGO art. There are also a number of cut-away models, where the humorous side of LEGO really comes into play and the LEGO people come to life: the snake pit in the basement of the pyramids, the spider webs in the North Korean Pyongyang Hotel and the hundreds of LEGO people in the incredibly detailed sinking Titanic (my personal favourite). 

While I spent a lot of time restraining my very inquisitive three-year-old to prevent the potential undoing of 170 hours of work, I really enjoyed glancing at the information sheets next to each model. Each sheet details how many bricks were used and how long it took to build. They are mind-bogglingly huge numbers which add an extra level of awe and appreciation to each creation.

Some of the installations have really pushed LEGO boundaries (who knew there was such a thing!?); the Australian sailing boat with the curved sails, for example, is incredibly clever and posed massive challenges to the creators.


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Dotted around Te Papa you’ll also find an array of LEGO creation stations – one in the main foyer and another by the entrance to Bush City. There are also lots of LEGO-themed events planned throughout the exhibition for both young and old, including adults-only nights and dress-up LEGO movie showings. Yep, everything is awesome at Te Papa this summer. 

So while LEGO is still, arguably, the most painful thing to step on, particularly as you stumble down a dark hallway at 3am, it’s also, in my humble opinion, the coolest toy in the world. As the Te Papa brochure wisely says: ‘You can’t rely on a Wellington summer, but you can rely on Te Papa for big summer fun’. And at the Let’s Build LEGO exhibit, fun is most definitely what you will have. 

Let's Build LEGO: A Festival for LEGO Lovers is on at Te Papa until 11 February 2018.

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