Legos Take the Spotlight at Morris Museum

By Maddie Orton
Arts Correspondent

It’s your typical toy story. When Amado Pinlac’s sons entered high school, they lost interest in their Legos — leaving their dad with bins of the colorful plastic blocks. But instead of tossing them aside, he got to building.

Now Pinlac’s creations, along with many others, are on display in Morris Museum‘s Engineering Brick Art exhibit.

“People specifically mentioned that this particular creation should be in a museum,” said Pinlac of one of his pieces, “and I kind of chuckled at that thought many years ago because I said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me,’ but look where we are now, you know?”

The show’s featured builders illustrate how versatile the blocky pieces can be. Famous sites are instantly recognizable. So are film scenes and works of art. There’s even an homage to that special pain in the foot all Lego-lovers know too well.

Curator Alexandra Willis says this isn’t the museum’s first foray into showcasing Lego art. It’s a hit across generations.

“We did have to go around and wipe off the cases quite a bit because we get a lot of kids on the glass, all up in the Legos,” said Willis. “They’re very excited to see just what these artists are capable of doing.”

Artists like Pinlac will mix and match pieces from several different kits — sometimes buying additional elements online — to get the look they want.

“The very first thing I do,” explained Pinlac, “is do a lot of research on the subject matter.”

Pinlac prides himself on getting the building-to-mini-figure ratios right and depicting scenes accurately. His attention to detail has won him contests and earned him spots in hobby magazines.

“This version of this build will number from 5,000 upwards in the pieces,” said Pinlac of a particularly large creation. “The mini-figures alone … number about 200.”

Pinlac is quick to remind that his Lego-building is just a hobby, but he says it feels great to have his work appreciated.

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment to see kids, adults alike, gain enjoyment in just viewing your creations,” Pinlac said.

If you can’t get enough of spectacular toys, Morris Museum is also showing a massive model train display and hand-crafted miniatures.