From now through August 2023, the Cincinnati Museum Center is home to “Bricktionary – The Ultimate Lego A to Z” which made its world premiere there. It was created by LEGO® Certified Professional Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught and his Brickman team, based on his book The Bricktionary: The ultimate A-Z of LEGO. (Amazon affiliate link). You can see a stop-motion video of the exhibit being assembled here. Here’s my review:
Upon entering the exhibit, you watch a short video of McNaught talking about the exhibit, and the docent also goes over a few rules. (I think it’s so helpful for kids when you tell them what to expect and what’s expected of them! So, saying up front “you’ll be able to build a lot in there, but remember that all the bricks stay here in the exhibit – instead of taking them home, you can add them to our displays.”)
Then you enter the exhibit, which had several components:
26 Letter Cases
For each letter of the alphabet, there was a display case with a several small models of things that begin with that letter. For example, in the K case, there was a kettle, a kite flyer, kayaker, king, and knight, kangaroo, keyboardist and a keytar player. These were cute and fun for kids to see if they could figure out what every figure was. Some were just simple mini figures, some were simple builds, but some showed unique Lego techniques like the “knit” letter K.
They had a 7 foot tall Space Needle, a near life size Orca, a Tonka truck, a flower that was 4′ in diameter, this “Met Gala” style dress made from helicopter blades, a model of the Cincinnati Museum Center and more.
They also had some displays like MiniLand at Legoland, such as this premier of the Lego Movie, which has a cutaway that shows the red carpet in front of the theater, the audience watching the movie, and a video of clips from the movie.
Education / Interpretive Materials
They had signs with Lego themed words for each letter of the alphabet. Words that described types of blocks, building techniques, themes from Lego fandom, historical models, and more. These were appealing both to Lego fans who recognized all those terms and felt “seen” and non-Lego enthusiasts as they gained insight into the hobby. Minor quibble – they referred to a building technique called SNOT throughout the exhibit, but never defined it (I expected it to show up on the S poster). My husband who is an AFOL (adult fan of Lego) informs me it means Studs-Not-On-Top.
Build it Yourself
They had several areas where you got the chance to build.
There was the earthquake zone with shake tables, where you could try building a structure that would withstand an earthquake and then set the shake table quaking and see if it falls down. (Spoiler: Lego is actually really sturdy and it’s kind of hard to build something that WILL fall down when shaken. I teach a kids STEM class where we have a day learning about earthquakes, and we specifically DON’T use interlocking Lego or Duplo – we use wood blocks that will shake apart.) It was a fun engineering style challenge.
Flowers and Spaceships
They had two areas that offered a prompt to get you started, suggested some ideas, and encouraged you to build a piece to leave on display. One was nature themed – make a flower for the garden, and one was spaceship themed. In the picture you can see some of the models that attendees built. This was a nice creative challenge.
They are working on a collaborative mosaic of a waterfall. You work at a station where a tablet displays a grid. You assemble a 6×6 grid using single stud plates with the colors in exactly the pattern shown on the grid. Then the staff double-checks your design to be sure it’s correct, then mounts it in its assigned place. (Mine was at something like 20 on the X axis and 44 on the Y axis.) This was a good build activity for people who like to follow specific instructions rather than free build.
This video from the Cincinnati Museum Center offers a nice view of the full exhibit.
Cost / Time
The exhibit was $22.50 for a timed entry adult ticket. ($17.50 for kids) It took us an hour to look at most things and try out some of the builds. If it was the only thing we had planned for the day, we might have gone a little slower and looked more in depth, or we would have bought the VIP ticket which allowed you to come and go at any time.
I’m not especially a Lego fan and I enjoyed the exhibit. My 12 year old who is moderately into Lego also had fun, as did my husband who is a lifelong Lego fan. I also saw young children who were very engaged. (Best for age 5 and up, I would guess.) The exhibit was quite well done, and I’d recommend it.
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