Editor’s note, Jan. 17: This exhibition has closed its Seattle run.
The “LEGO Movie” theme song played in my head on repeat while checking out the new Awesome Exhibition at Seattle Center. I watched my kids “ooh” and “ah” at life-size models created from more than 2 million bricks before working together to build their own creations. Oh, and I didn’t step on a single brick. Everything is awesome, indeed!
LEGO exhibit: Dive in and build
Signs kindly request that visitors not touch the carefully crafted models. However, interactive stations located shortly after the entrance act like magnets for kids eager to get their hands on some bricks (with hand sanitizing stations at the ready). A small crowd quickly gathered near an alligator model surrounded by bins of standard-sized bricks. We popped over to admire the giant orca and play with black and white DUPLO bricks near a family of emperor penguins until a slot opened up near the “big kid” LEGO bricks (as my 5-year-old refers to them).
I found the setup really inviting: The height is perfect for the elementary-aged group, and bins of assorted LEGO bricks fully surround models to maximize play space. My 2-year-old had to dive in a bit to find just the right pieces, but he seemed to think that was part of the fun.
At home, finding the perfect brick can sometimes lead to arguments (“He took the piece I needed!”). With plenty of LEGO to choose from, I heard more encouragement and compliments than bickering among kids at the exhibit. Proud builders can leave their creations adjacent to the larger model for future admirers.
Travel the world without leaving home
Our international travel days are still on pause, but models of famous global sights like Windsor Castle and Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains popped up around every corner. My daughter loved spotting a scooter in her favorite color (a bright robin’s egg blue) at the base of the Eiffel Tower.
Ryan McNaught (a.k.a. “The Brickman”) and his eponymous team of LEGO® brick artists, the creators of the exhibit, hail from Melbourne, so it’s only fitting that they included some Australian animals in the exhibit. A koala and kangaroo look out across the hall towards a particularly striking redback spider (a similarly venomous cousin of black widows). The spider’s immense size gave my daughter an up-close look at its anatomy, which we’d learned about on a recent tour.
LEGO planes, trains and automobiles
One of my favorite parts of visiting LEGOLAND years ago was touring Miniland. Peering into cross-sections of buildings constructed of LEGO® bricks, visitors can spy funny or interesting scenes featuring Minifigures. The Awesome Exhibition incorporates some of that magic in its vehicle models. Inside the icebreaker boat, a scientist with wild hair investigates an alien, while a chef tries to catch a chicken for dinner aboard the jet plane. My kids and I loved hunting for our favorite scenes, but it turned out they hadn’t gotten their fill of building yet.
Luckily for them, more bins full of bricks near a Caterpillar mining truck and the first ever life-size LEGO® brick Harley-Davidson offer plenty of space to build your own vehicles. Our Monorail ride from downtown to Seattle Center was clearly memorable since my daughter’s vehicle of choice was a similar train made almost entirely of windshields. My son needed a little help to hunt down matching tires, but he was so proud of his simple four-wheeled race car.
Both of my kids could have stayed for 5,000 hours (the amount of time it took to create the exhibit), but it was time to leave our mark before my toddler’s nap time. A giant wall invites everyone to add their own art piece to “Help Build the Longest LEGO® Snake.” White baseplates and trays of colorful single bricks provided the perfect medium for visitors to share their names, striking patterns and favorite sports-team logos. My kindergartner is learning to write and managed to fashion the words “I love” on her baseplate, hanging it next to my tree design before we headed out into the rain.
LEGO exhibit details
Location: The Awesome Exhibition is located at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion at 305 Harrison St.
Hours: The exhibit runs through Jan. 16, 2022. Hours are noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
Cost: Tickets start at $19.50 per adult and $15.50 per child (12 and under). Babies under 1 are free. Weekend prices increase by $5 per ticket. Pre-booking your hourly time slot is strongly recommended (once in, you can stay as long as you wish, but no re-entry).
Parking: Paid street parking is the least expensive option, but be prepared for a bit of a walk. The Seattle Center website offers a list of available garages as an alternative.
COVID policy: Masks are required for anyone (age 5+) at the event, AND proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is required for entry (age 12+).
Food: Food and drink are not allowed in the exhibit, but the Fisher Pavilion is adjacent to the Armory, where you’ll find lots of options at the food court.
Tip: Don’t miss the NASA SLS Rocket in the Armory building. It’s more than 24 feet tall and made from more than 450,000 bricks.
Published Nov. 17, 2021