If it is EDU-tainment you are after, look no further than the Brick History exhibition at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery. This is the latest marvellous model show to arrive in town from the Warren Elsmore emporium – of Brick City fame – and features defining moments and discoveries on earth from the big bang right through to modern day.
Snapshots of history are presented in vibrant, multi-coloured 3D, arranged in themes such as Transport, War & Conflict, Exploration, Equality and the Arts – from intricately recreated scientific triumphs such as the double helix and smallpox vaccine (complete with little vials!), to terracotta warriors, Vesuvius, Concorde and the Titanic. Stars of the show are a 1.5m recreation of Rochester Castle – the real one dates back to 1088 with 12 ft thick walls. The Lego® ‘stonework’ is astonishing and the children loved spotting the different foods and animals in the outbuildings.
I loved the first silent movie theatre – the audience all in colour and the screen in black and white – with the intricate mechanics of its projection booth and the Hong Kong skyline, to mark the handover in 1997.
We also enjoyed hearing about some of the techniques involved from lead creative designer Guy Bagley, such as ‘bram sphere’ to create special plates for globes and ‘Studs Not on Top’ or (SNOT) for building models outwards, rather than upwards.
Guy had a hand in most of the models, as he says, he is ‘paid to play’ and has been designing Lego® models for more than 35 years, all over the world. All the models are made with unglued, standard Lego bricks, put together by human hand: “The only way you can tell if something looks right is by good old-fashioned human eye,” Guy said.
Opening the exhibition, he explained: “We hope children will be enticed by the models and may notice something that might spark their curiosity and make them want to go away and find out more. They might say ‘look mum, why is that lady chained to the railings?’ and it will prompt further discussion.
“We have 13m years of history going right back to the dinosaurs and everything in between.”
The three winning models in the museum’s Brick History competition are also on display, including a spectacular design of The Flying Scotsman from Alfie Hembrow-Forrester (5-11 category) – spot the hidden Homer Simpson! – Super Mario gaming figures from Roger Lewis (17+) and Mount Vesuvius erupting in Pompeii from Cal Adlard (12-16).
Cal was at the opening with his famous dad – comic laureate Charlie Adlard (of the Walking Dead comics) – and mum Lynette. Cal said: “I wanted to capture how much of Pompeii has been preserved after the eruption and also the perspective, with the big volcano looming in the background.”
Guy Bagley added: “We loved the black figure climbing out of the lava. We call him charcoal man.”
Get your Brick History tickets online to avoid the queues. You will be delighted, diverted, engrossed, occasionally startled – and you might even learn a thing or two. The kids won’t let you miss the huge LEGO® play zone on Level 2. My 9-year-old managed to balance on top of a 7ft Lego tower he built himself. Maybe don’t try that.
Brick History will be at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery until 15 April 2018. Admission £10 a family ticket (two adults and up to three children aged 5-17), or £7 family ticket (one adult and up to three children aged 5.17), or £4.50 adult, £2 child.
The March/April edition of My Shrewsbury is available now.