Inspecting a cross-section of an icebreaker model made of Lego. Credit: JiaYing Grygiel
It’s hard to bring kids to special exhibits where you have to say over and over again, “Don’t touch!”
At “Awesome Exhibition: The Interactive Exhibition of Lego Models,” you get to “ooh” and “ahh” at the masterpieces on display, then get right to building your own creation, on the spot.
The exhibition opened this past weekend and runs through Jan. 16 at Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center. There are some three dozen epic Lego builds to admire, including an 8-foot-tall orca, a life-size Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the largest-ever Caterpillar mining dump truck made of Lego bricks.
And it wouldn’t be Seattle without a Lego model of the Space Needle, positioned right under the actual iconic tower. The exhibit uses one million Lego bricks and took 5,000 hours to build.
Marvel at the models
Fisher Pavilion is a large open room that’s curtained off into three spaces. As you enter, you’ll first see a series of tabletop Lego scenes, including a Stradivarius violin made of Lego. The main exhibit area will knock your socks off with super-sized creations. The first room features mostly animals, the second presents famous buildings and the third includes modes of transportation.
The detail is incredible. There’s an entire miniature world with tiny subplots to examine. A man wielding a croissant chases a Buckingham Palace guard at Windsor Castle. A mermaid holding a cup of coffee basks on a rock next to the Sydney Opera House. A mademoiselle sunbathes by the Eiffel Tower.
And the scale! A gaggle of kids surrounded the life-size saltwater crocodile, busy digging through the Lego moat around it, oblivious to its many sharp teeth.
Several structures have cutaway cross-sections so you can see what’s happening inside. An audience watches a flick in Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. There’s an actual movie playing on the screen via an iPad.
You can look inside the many decks of an icebreaker ship, a Shinkansen bullet train, an airplane big enough to fit a train inside. There are contraptions for flight, too — a Voyager 1 space probe and a United Nations helicopter — though since they are suspended in the air, they’re harder to examine.
There are five building stations in the exhibit where kids (and adults) can build their own original Lego creations right next to those on display. The giant orca and other models are the work of Lego-certified professional Ryan “the Brickman” McNaught, the mastermind and creator of the show.
A friendly Seattle Center staff member stood at the entrance checking vaccine cards, and spare masks were available for people who forgot to bring their own (like me — doh!). Hand-sanitizer stations are sprinkled throughout.
The Awesome Exhibition is part of Seattle Center Winterfest and runs through Jan. 16, 2022. This means Fisher Pavilion won’t be transforming into its traditional Winterfest ice rink this year. That makes sense, considering that the $1.15 billion Climate Pledge Arena just opened next door.
Will this Lego show draw huge holiday crowds? Yep. Am I bummed that we got Lego instead of the ice rink? Yep. (But maybe I'm the only one?)
The Lego exhibit is the kind of thing you go to once, and it’s fun, sure. It’s also $73.52 for a family of four, on a weekday. The ice rink was terrible, small and bumpy, but it was cheap ($6) and fun and festive all season long. There, that was my curmudgeon moment.
I did overhear a mom on her phone bumping up the time of her dinner reservation; the show was perhaps smaller than expected. You can plan on spending an hour to 90 minutes inside, depending on how diehard your Lego fanatics are and how long they want to spend at the building stations.
But go and have your hour of fun at this exhibit. Kids will love it, kids-at-heart will love it. The Winterfest train and village setup is back at The Armory, too, along with free weekend entertainment and Saturday ice sculpting.
Most exhibitions are designed to deposit you into a gift shop at the end. Surprisingly, the Lego exhibit does not. You simply walk back out onto the misty Seattle Center campus while the kids tell you how they can’t wait to go play with the Legos they already have at home. Now that is truly awesome!
If you go:
When: “Awesome Exhibition: The Interactive Exhibition of Lego Models” is open now and runs through Jan. 16, 2022, Tuesday–Thursday, noon–9 p.m., and Friday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Where: Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St., Seattle.
Cost: Tickets for adults and teens cost $19.50–$24.50, and $15.50–$19.50 for kids ages 12 and younger. A family ticket covering two adults and two children costs $62–$82. The cheaper tickets are for weekday admission. Plan on roughly an additional $5–$14 for convenience and ticketing fees. Book online.
Safety: Masks required for ages 5 and older and proof of vaccination required for ages 12 and older.
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