Cincinnati Museum Center is known for having fun, interactive exhibitions that ignite curiosity and captivate the imagination. Its latest project builds on that trend – one block at a time.
“Bricktionary: The Ultimate LEGO A-Z” premiered on March 18 at CMC. The unique and colorful exhibit was snapped to life by Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught, star of LEGO Masters Australia. McNaught is one of 21 LEGO Certified Professionals (LCP) around the world and the only LCP located in the southern hemisphere.
“My grandmother gave me my very first set of LEGO when I was three years old,” McNaught says. “I thought they were the ant’s pants.”
As a teenager, McNaught moved away from playing with the “children’s toys.” It wasn’t until his twin sons were born that he rediscovered his love for LEGO.
“Getting back into LEGO triggered this wave of memories and a joy for creating things,” McNaught explains. “Of course, LEGO had changed quite a bit from when I was a kid.”
One change was the introduction of LEGO MINDSTORMS, a line of buildable and programmable robots made from LEGO. Before becoming an LCP, McNaught worked as a chief information officer. Using his knowledge of IT, he developed software that let high school engineering students operate their LEGO MINDSTORM robots using a tablet. His innovation caught the attention of executives at the LEGO Group, who asked McNaught to collaborate with them on future projects.
“Bricktionary” is one of those collaborations. The exhibit features 150 custom-built LEGO models – including a life-sized orca whale and a Saturn V rocket. Each model is inspired by a letter in the alphabet. The exhibit is based on McNaught’s book, “The Bricktionary: The Ultimate LEGO A-Z.”
CMC guests will have the opportunity to showcase their creativity and talent through interactive build zones. Builders can place their LEGO structures on an earthquake machine to see how long their creations survive. Visitors are encouraged to build robots, rocket ships, trains, boats, fashion accessories or even their favorite animals.
McNaught has a pro tip to create the perfect LEGO animal: it’s all in the eyes.
Guests can even add bricks to a giant mosaic. Once finished, the mosaic will include over 100,000 LEGO pieces.
“Every ‘Bricktionary’ interactive exhibit is designed to educate by stealth,” McNaught says. “Children of all ages are taught specific skills through activities — some mathematical and others more artistic — and they don’t even realize they’re learning because they’re having such a blast playing with LEGO!”
McNaught hopes that once guests visit “Bricktionary,” they will expand their creative thinking using their own LEGO collections.
“I hope the “Bricktionary” exhibit inspires people to try new things. Maybe instead of just building a spaceship, they’ll build the spaceship and the planet it lands on and the aliens who live on that planet. If you can dream it, you can build it.”
Want to check out “Bricktionary: The Ultimate LEGO A-Z”? Visit the Cincinnati Museum Center at 1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45208. Go to cincymuseum.org for tickets andmore information.