The Art of the Brick: HMNS Gets Nostalgic About America’s Favorite Toy

December 19, 2019

The Art of the Brick has settled into its temporary Houston home here at HMNS after an explosive October opening, but the blocks are still a-buzz around the halls. This holiday season we are not only reminiscing fond memories that warm our hearts, but fond LEGO® brick memories that bring smiles to our lips. A few HMNS employees, and a special guest, were asked to share their love of the brick and the outcome was, in itself, memorable.

You’re only limited by your imagination with LEGO [bricks] and that was my biggest thing when I was a kid. – Zee McMurray, Concierge and Discovery Guide

My friend and I were super big nerds and we’d build towns to rival each other. We’d have these play mats that were different colors and we said they were biomes where you could get specific resources which were matched by a specific color of brick. LEGO sets were kind of the gateway into creativity as a kid. There was really nothing better than a lazy Saturday morning with your bud and then building something together. – Stephen Batchelder, Visitor Services

I was never a fan of having to build specific things. I was just like “Give me the bricks and I’ll make something out of them.” I don’t want to be constrained. – Daniel Huerta, Concierge and Discovery Guide

One of my favorite memories is helping my son put his Harry Potter set together. I try to make that a habit with him. It’ll help him with some kind of work habit at least, to show him once you start something, you’ve got to finish it. – Matt Hamlett, Lead Projectionist at the Wortham Giant Screen Theater

After Hurricane Harvey, we were taking everything out of my mom’s house, going through and trying to sort it. One of the things I found was a rebate for one of those LEGO [kits] when you cut the little thing out and send it in and you’re supposed to get a dollar back. We didn’t send it in, but it was kind of cute to find. LEGO is a fun thing. Not only as a kid, but then it’s the exact same joy as an adult. And I’m sharing that with my nieces and nephews. – Daniel Burch, Volunteer Program Facilitator

I built the Apollo 6 rocket with my fiancé. That was a really good bonding experience. It was a really cool thing we did. – Lisa Escobar, Manager of Member Engagement

There’s a LEGO wheelchair! I still want the LEGO wheelchair because they’re so new in accepting. Now that they incorporate them, I can feel more comfortable doing LEGO [sets]. And they come with service dogs. A few of my friends that have the same disability and are in wheelchairs have built the giant things and they have them all over the house. Well, we can’t step on them! I have that power. – Laura Lynn Phillips, Membership Data Entry

In college, my future husband and I got into playing with LEGO [toys], and we actually collected most of the sets in that four-year period. We bought two of each, one to play and build and the other to keep for our potential kids in the future to play with. – Chris Battan, Live Animal Program Manager

What I loved about LEGO [toys] was you didn’t need instructions or know how to make something. Even though my brother is younger than me and later on we found out he had learning differences, he could still enjoy blocks because they were for everyone. – Robert Reichenbach, Visitor Services Lead

The reason I collect LEGO [sets] is because I enjoy working with my hands and it’s relaxing. I find their projects creative and it gives me a chance to build something on a smaller scale that doesn’t take up too much space. I collect sets from movies that came out when I was younger, favorite cars and anything that is science or museum related. – Gary Kidder, Collections Inventory Manager

I would build worlds and I would use LEGO [bricks] to build the parts I couldn’t find and make them out of other stuff. – James Washington,

One of the biggest things I remember was on road trips my brother and I would bring huge containers full of LEGO bricks in the car and we’d see how big… we could build things. – Alex Ruff, Concierge Lead

Nathan Sawaya in The Art of the Brick

I was building with LEGO [bricks] a lot. I really found it to be my respite. If I wanted to pretend to be an astronaut that day, I could just build myself a rocket ship. I want to pretend to be a rock star, I just build myself a guitar. There were no limits. And that’s why later in life it became such a great art medium. It was something I could do after school that was, for me, fun, relaxing [and] also let me just use my imagination because I think that’s key when creating any type of art. You need that imagination and LEGO bricks allowed me to do that. Playing is a big part of being an artist and so as long as you’re playing you’re actually working on your art. – Nathan Sawaya, LEGO brick artist

The Art of the Brick is a special exhibit now on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Purchase tickets here.

Authored By Jilliane Johnson

Jilliane began her HMNS career in Visitor Services, greeting and assisting guests on a daily. Now as a full-time member of Marketing, Jilliane educates visitors and viewers of the various stories and storytellers within the walls. When Jilliane isn't writing, you can find her gaming, spending time with friends and family or watching trashy TV dating shows.

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