Kids love LEGO. Kids love animals. Put the two together, and you have the ultimate entertainment experience for tots. Sean Kenney, a LEGO brick artist, enables that magical fusion with Nature Connects, a collection of 50 giant LEGO animals that is traveling around North America, with stops at zoos and botanical gardens. Currently showing at the Naples Botanical Garden in Florida, the Dallas Zoo in Texas, and the South Coast Botanic Garden in California, Nature Connects was created with more than 1.6 million LEGO pieces and includes a wide array of large animals, bugs, and even people. Read on to see more of these larger-than-life LEGO sculptures (talk about #LEGObuildinggoals) and to get a glimpse into the painstaking process.
Kenney took on creatures big and small for Nature Connects — that include a six foot-tall bison, a hummingbird daintily drinking from a flower, and a peacock preening. Kenney took great care in also creating less commonly seen animals, including a crouching snow tiger and a family of polar bears. As part of his design process, Kenney watched how animals move and interact. He was especially touched by the relationship between a polar bear mother and her cubs, saying, “I was taken by how almost-human they seemed. I wanted to try to capture this aspect of their lives.”
Kenney also made room for some human creations as well, with gardeners both young and old watering, hoeing, and harvesting. We love how the exhibits coexist with the landscaping of the zoo or botanical center, making the experience more integrated. Kenney designed the sculptures with specific display ideas. For example, the hummingbird, which is over eight-feet-long and which includes almost 28,000 LEGO pieces, was designed to be installed just above water level in a pond or lake. The hummingbird took two of Kenney’s assistants four months to build (working full-time!) and every single piece was hand-glued one at a time.
Helping to encourage an appreciation of animals is undoubtedly a goal for Nature Connects, and each structure is accompanied by facts and information regarding the various species. We also see Nature Connects as a great and humane alternative for certain animals in zoos. Instead of keeping species that are not climate-appropriate or the right size for zoo enclosures, they could simply invest in these long-term educational LEGO animals so that families could still witness them up close.
Nature Connects will continue touring until 2019 so check here to see if the exhibit will be coming to your city.