Mia – August 5, 2019

Along with the big and bold wooden trolls created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle is another Danish-born attraction: LEGO!

Black and white head shot of Ole Kirk Christiansen.

Danish toy maker Ole Kirk Christiansen created an empire in 1932 when he founded LEGO, short for “Leg godt,” or “play well” in English.

Through September 15, 2019, the Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® bricks by LEGO art whiz Sean Kenney is delighting visitors with nature-themed sculptures created entirely from over 500,000 LEGO bricks located along the Arboretum’s lush and beautiful nature paths. A total of 15 amazing displays pop with vibrant color, texture and whimsy, including an eight-foot dragonfly, a brilliant peacock in all his open-tail glory (see photo above, used with permission from the Arboretum), an oak tree sprouting from an acorn, and a crimson-crested woodpecker.

Even though school is just around the corner for my three children, Astrid, Jake and Alex (gulp – I’m not sure I’m ready!), I knew we had to make the drive to the Arboretum for one last summer hoorah. My kids enjoyed the troll exhibit so much, especially the part about the troll creator being of their same Danish heritage, and they’ve grown up playing with LEGOs all their lives. In fact, one of their favorite activities at The Danish Home’s annual Summerfest is the LEGO station.

A boy and girl play with LEGOs at an outdoor table.

Children (and adults, too!) love playing with LEGOs. The LEGO station at The Danish Home’s annual Summerfest is a favorite attraction.

Founded on August 10, 1932, by Dane Ole Kirk Christiansen, LEGO has become a leading world brand. Born the 10th son of a poor family in Jutland, Denmark, Christiansen began what would become an empire by crafting wooden toys to make a living during the Great Depression.

Short for Leg godt, Danish for “play well,” LEGO appeals to all generations, inspiring creativity in children and nostalgia in adults. As a mother of two boys and a girl who don’t always see eye to eye, I have personally witnessed the unifying (if only temporary) effect of the three of them building their own LEGO brick creations, connecting them both metaphorically and literally.

Along with the truly awesome experience of seeing the LEGO displays at the Arboretum for themselves, children – and fun-loving adults – also have the opportunity to create their own LEGO works of art in the Arboretum’s Children’s Garden, 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Jake, 12, made an alien; Astrid, 10, made a butterfly; and Alex, 8, made a tree with lizard eyes (don’t ask). I was only going to observe, but I couldn’t help but also join the creative action. I built a cottage in honor of my fantasy to own one on the Danish seashore someday.

I was thrilled to learn from a recent visit with Farfar and residents at The Danish Home that they, too, are going to visit the Arboretum to see the LEGO exhibit. They’re going on September 5, and Farfar couldn’t be more excited. “LEGOs were some of the first toys we got our children,” he told me. “I loved them, too!”

Residents of The Danish Home also visited the troll exhibit last summer. I am always amazed at how active they are and how many outings and social opportunities they have. Farfar says that’s what keeps him young. At 94 and in great shape, he knows what he’s talking about!

One of my projects once the kids return to school in just over a week is to clean out their toy closet. Things that will not be going in the donation bin are the many LEGO sets and random LEGO bricks they’ve enjoyed for so many years. The building possibilities are endless and ageless.

Who knows? I may even make a few additions to my LEGO beach cottage.