On the top floor of The Novium Museum in Chichester, archaeological icons from the Great Wall of China to the astonishing architecture of Petra are replicated in miniature, their details picked out in thousands of colourful LEGO bricks.
Brick Wonders is a temporary exhibition showcasing models by LEGO artist Warren Elsmore. He has used half a million bricks to represent landmarks ancient and modern, historical and natural, spanning all seven continents, and even venturing under the sea and into space.
On entering the exhibition space (which previously housed displays dedicated to the enigmatic North Bersted warrior burial – see CA 361 – his skeleton and the remains of the elaborate crested helmet that was found with him are now housed in the ‘History of Chichester’ gallery on the first floor), visitors are immediately met by LEGO versions of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Among the models, the statue of Zeus at Olympia sits proudly in a temple of c.2,000 white and gold bricks – rather smaller than the 13m-high original, but engagingly tactile in appearance – while the Great Pyramid of Giza is shown nearby, mid-construction, in a lively scene suggesting one possible interpretation of how it was built. The real Great Pyramid, an accompanying board attests, contains around 6 million tons of rock, and took an estimated 10-20 years to build – by contrast, the model’s 5,000 bricks were assembled in 72 hours.
As well as moai from Easter Island and a strikingly detailed reconstruction of Old London Bridge (which has some lovely humorous touches), the exhibition features representations of natural wonders including Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and, depicted in a stunning mosaic that uses c.100,000 bricks, the dancing lights of Aurora Australis (below which, scientists from the British Hailey VI Research Station are shown launching a weather balloon in an icy Antarctic scene).
Other models represent human achievements, including the internet and the International Space Station, but the culmination of the displays returns to the natural world, with a vibrant image of the Great Barrier Reef. Turtles, rays, and colourful fish are suspended amid bright swathes of coral and underwater plant life in a diorama measuring 2m by 3m. And, of course, in an exhibition centred on such a creative medium, there is also an area set aside for visitors of all ages to sit and experiment with building their own LEGO landmarks.
Brick Wonders runs at The Novium Museum in Chichester until 5 June. Tickets to the exhibition cost £4 for adults, £2.50 for children, and £12 for a family of up to five (entry to rest of the museum is free). For more details and to book a timed entry slot, visit www.thenovium.org/brickwonders. You can read more about the work of Warren Elsmore at www.warrenelsmore.com.
For more on the archaeology of Chichester and the city’s upcoming Roman Week, see p.44.
All images: The Novium Museum.