A series of sculptures built with more than 800,000 LEGO® bricks will be on view throughout the seven acres of gardens at Winchester’s Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) from May 27 through September 4, 2023, when the MSV presents the award-winning traveling exhibition Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects® Made with LEGO® Bricks.

Featuring works created by artist Sean Kenney, Nature Connects presents 13 displays of sculptures made out of LEGO bricks, including a mother polar bear and her cubs built with 133,263 LEGO bricks, an eleven-foot-long rhinoceros, and a zebra and wildebeest display that took 875 hours to build.

According to MSV Deputy Director of Arts and Education Nancy Huth, the MSV launched its outdoor exhibition series five years ago with a different Nature Connects display. She notes that with the exception of two signature pieces that travel with each version of the exhibition—the hummingbird and monarch butterfly sculptures—this summer’s presentation of Nature Connects includes works never before seen in the MSV gardens.

One of the largest sculptures in the exhibition is Mother Polar Bear and Cubs. On view near the Rose Garden arbor, the piece weighs 625 pounds and took more than 1,048 hours to create. A jeweled chameleon built with 49,034 LEGO bricks greets visitors at the entrance to the Vegetable Garden, and a giant monarch butterfly sculpture is nestled in the Perennial Garden where visitors might see live butterflies flying among larkspur, coneflowers, and leopard plant.

Along with displaying impressive works of art created entirely out of LEGO bricks, Nature Connects explores the world of endangered animals in a unique and imaginative way. For example, built with 88,361 LEGO bricks, Sean Kenney’s Disappearing Rhino sculpture illustrates both the massive size of the African black rhino and its vanishing population. When viewed from the side, the sculpture seems to disappear. Each sculpture in the exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual interpretive panel—with information presented in English and Spanish—that describes the animal, its conservation status, and the impact of human activities on the animal’s habitat.

Families are invited to bring picnics to enjoy on the MSV grounds, and they may purchase ice cream, light snacks, and souvenirs at a special Pop-up Shop in the gardens.

Admission to Nature Connects—which includes admission to the MSV galleries—is $15 for adults, $10 for youth ages 13–18 and seniors, and $5 for ages 5–12. Exhibition admission is free to ages 4 and under and to MSV members. Through the MSV’s participation in the Museums for All program, admission is also free to those receiving food assistance (SNAP) benefits. To take advantage of this offer, visitors will need to present an EBT card to MSV admissions staff. The Museums for All benefit is valid for up to four family members per cardholder.

Nature Connects is created by Sean Kenney Design and produced by Imagine Exhibitions, Inc. The exhibition’s MSV display has been made possible thanks to generous sponsorship from the Valley’s corporate community, including: Perry Engineering Company; iHeartMedia; Chick-fil-A; Marlow Motor Company; Painter-Lewis, P.L.C.; Love at First Bite Catering and Events; F&M Bank; Four Winds Tree Experts; Frederick Block, Brick & Stone; The George Washington Hotel–A Wyndham Grand Hotel; H.N. Funkhouser & Co. and Handy Mart; HP Hood LLC; Lantz Construction Winchester; Reader & Swartz Architects; Shenandoah Foot & Ankle Center; Six Star Events, LLC; TWG Insurance; Virasec IT Support Services; and Yount, Hyde & Barbour, P.C.

A regional cultural center, the MSV is located at 901 Amherst Street in Winchester, Virginia. The MSV includes a galleries building with permanent and rotating exhibitions, the Glen Burnie House, seven acres of formal gardens, and The Trails at the MSV—a free-admission art park open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk. The galleries, gardens, and Nature Connects exhibition are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. With the exception of Memorial Day May 29 and Labor Day September 4, the exhibition is closed on Mondays. Additional details are available at www.theMSV.org or by calling 540-662-1473, ext. 235. –END–

About Artist Sean Kenney

Sean Kenney is an award-winning artist who uses LEGO pieces as a medium for contemporary sculpture, portraiture, and commercial art. His work is in public and private collections in the United States, China, throughout Europe, Australia, and the Caribbean. Visited by millions of people, his multiple traveling exhibitions have been touring globally since 2012.  Sean Kenney is the author of nine children’s books, and his work has been featured in many news outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, PBS Arts, BBC Arts, NHK Japan, ELLE, and Wired.