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Lego exhibit isn’t child’s play as artist uses sculptures to bring attention to endangered animals | Local


Legos aren’t kid’s stuff in the hands of someone like Sean Kenney, who uses the tiny building blocks and his artistic talents to fight for endangered animals.

Kenney 43, is a New York-based artist recognized by the Lego Group as a certified professional. His fourth indoor exhibit for Lauritzen Gardens runs through May 10. The traveling exhibit features some fantastic new pieces, including a coral reef, a snow leopard and a disappearing black rhino.

The rhino looks something akin to a radiator when viewed from the side. It presents the illusion of disappearing, and that’s a point Kenney intended.


The disappearing black rhino is one of the Lego sculptures by Sean Kenney on display at Lauritzen Gardens.

“Rhinos are disappearing in front of our faces, and this life-size sculpture does exactly that,” he writes via Facebook. “I wanted to illustrate both the massive size and physical presence of the Black Rhino as well as the fact that they are quite literally disappearing off the face of the earth.”

With outside temperatures hovering around 10 degrees Sunday, families flocked to Lauritzen Gardens, at 100 Bancroft St., to see the 13 displays built from nearly 800,000 Lego pieces. The sculptures are in the Marjorie K. Daugherty Conservatory and the floral display hall.

Andrea Walters of Omaha brought her sons, Noah, 12, and Owen, 2, to see the Nature Connects exhibit. Children were also able to build with Legos on a table and around a playhouse in the floral display hall.

“It’s a great place to bring (the kids) where they can stay inside,” said Andrea Walters of Omaha. “They can explore the Legos and be loud.”


Dylan Gehrts, 12, middle, keeps an eye on 2-year-old baby sister, Liza, at the Lego exhibit at Lauritzen Gardens. At left is their brother, Jack, 4.  

Tony and Monica Gehrts of Omaha brought three of their four children with them: Dylan, 12, Jack, 4, and Liza, 2. Jack said he was impressed by the details displayed next to each exhibit, giving the number of Lego pieces used, the length of time needed to build each animal and its place on the endangered species list.

“When it’s super cold outside, we don’t mind making the trek down here (from west Omaha) for the kids,” Monica Gehrts said. “It gets them out of the house, and it’s something fun.”

You don’t have to be a kid to get a kick out of the Lego exhibits, said grown-ups David and Dee Dee Morar. The Omaha couple strolled through the exhibit — David in a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt — a diversion ahead of the evening’s NFC championship game between the Packers and the San Francisco 49ers.

David said the warmth of the conservatory was his favorite part of the tour. Dee Dee showed more of an appreciation for Kenney’s artwork.


A chameleon in the Lego exhibit at Lauritzen Gardens. The exhibit runs through May 10.

“We’re members here and they always put on great exhibits,” Dee Dee said. “I really liked the chameleon (in the conservatory) because of all the colors.”

The chameleon measures 48-by-30-by-66 inches and incorporates 49,034 Lego pieces. Recent research, the display said, estimates that nearly 35% of all chameleon species are at risk of extinction due to loss of habitat.

Other sculpture highlights mentioned by visitors Sunday included the snow leopard, the coral reef, the rhino and a mother polar bear with three cubs. All are at risk of disappearing.

The polar bear and cubs are made of 133,263 Lego pieces, easily the most in the exhibit. Jean Armstrong of Chicago was visiting Omaha friends and marveled at the intricacy of the exhibit.

“I don’t know how they are able to make the curves on these animals, but they do and they’re beautiful,” she said. “Every time I come to town, I see something wonderful here.”

Photos: The Omaha World-Herald’s best images of 2019

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