The Art of the Brick Manchester // Review

The Art of the Brick is an exhibition of Lego sculptures made by American artist Nathan Sawaya. Like lots of children, Toby and Gabe love Lego and our house is full of it. So, when I heard about The Art of the Brick I thought it might be something fun for us to go and see.

Where is it?

The Art of the Brick can be found at Great Northern Warehouse in Manchester until 20th April 2020. The venue is very easy to get to on public transport. We got the train to Deansgate and it was only a five minute walk to Great Northern Warehouse. The nearest tram stops are St Peter’s Square and Deansgate Castlefield. There is also an NCP car park on site if you would rather drive.

Ticket prices

We decided to have a day out during half term so we could take advantage of the free child with every adult ticket offer they had on. I will say now though, even with the offer we had to pay £29 for the four of us to visit. Full price tickets are £14.50 for adults and £9.50 for children. Or there are family tickets for £42 (2 adults & 2 children) or £50 (2 adults & 3 children). It’s definitely not a cheap day out, but is it worth it?

What is there to see at The Art of the Brick?

The Art of the Brick begins with a short film featuring the creator of the exhibition, Nathan Sawaya. He explains how he always loved playing with Lego as a child, and when he was a practising lawyer he used Lego as a way to relax after work. But he always wanted to be an artist and in the early 2000s he started creating Lego art.

Lego cello at The Art of the Brick

After the film you make your way into the display area. There are four different areas to look around. The first features a selection of sculptures from globes and planets, to musical instruments and a massive pencil!

Gabe next to a very big Lego pencil at The Art of the Brick Manchester

The second area has a variety of original sculptures all based on the human form. These were very impressive, especially some of the life size ones. The boys enjoyed looking at them, and they did very well to follow the ‘don’t touch’ signs as well!

Toby looking at a Lego sculpture

They definitely both enjoyed posing with the Lego figure in a chair…

A boy copying the pose of a life size Lego man sitting in a chair

Lego meets world famous art

The third area was probably my favourite. Here the artist has used Lego to recreate dozens of well known masterpieces, from the Venus de Milo to the Mona Lisa, and famous buildings such as the Parthenon and the Sphinx. I won’t spoiler by showing you them all but I did love this 3D recreation of Munch’s The Scream…

The Scream, recreated in Lego

IN PIECES

The penultimate area of the exhibition features “an extraordinary multimedia collaboration between the American sculptor and the Australian photographer Dean West. ”

I really enjoyed this part, with photographs incorporating Lego items which were on display alongside them. I think it went over Toby and Gabe’s heads though – especially as they were excited about what they were about to find in the final area of the exhibition….

T-Rex

Lego T-Rex - Art of the Brick Exhibition Manchester

It’s not quite life size but the Lego T-Rex is pretty massive and the boys were definitely impressed!

Interactive Play Zone

At the end of the exhibition there is an interactive play zone where children can have a go a building their own Lego creations. There are also a few consoles where they can play some of the Lego video games that my boys love so much.

Playing in the Lego pits at Art of the Brick

Toby and Gabe both enjoyed playing with the Lego but I will say the the ‘Interactive Play Zone’ is quite small and was fairly crowded, even with only a handful of children there. There’s not really any space for parents to stand out of the way either – I think this could have been thought out to make it a bit more accessible for more children at a time.

Is The Art of the Brick worth visiting?

We did enjoy our visit to The Art of the Brick. However, we were only there for an hour at the most, and at least 15 minutes of that was the boys playing with Lego, which we can do for free at home!

Although my boys enjoyed it, I think at ages 4 and 6 they were a bit young to appreciate the ‘art’ aspect – other than the Sphinx they didn’t recognise any of the famous art works so that part especially was a bit lost on them.

I think The Art of the Brick is a bit confused about who it is aimed at. If it’s an art exhibition which isn’t really aimed at children then why have the interactive play zone? Or if they are trying to attract children then it could do with being a bit more interactive. I saw someone suggest having more areas throughout the exhibition where children could play, rather than just at the end, and I think this would have been a really good idea.

Gabe playing in the jumbo lego

To be honest, if you are looking for a Lego based day out for kids in Manchester you’d be better off going to Legoland Discovery at the Trafford Centre. If you are an adult who enjoys Lego and art then The Art of the Brick could be just the place for you!

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