Worlds collide as a beloved indoor toy comes outdoors in Winchester, Virginia.
Thousands of hours (and 800,000 LEGO® bricks) were spent crafting Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects® exhibition at The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV). Indeed, just one of his largest creations demanded 1,048 hours to achieve … and there are a dozen more companion sculptures with it. Each a jaw-dropping likeness of an animal or insect, the sculptures are nestled into seven acres of gardens at MSV. Plus, they have stories to tell.
If Nature Connects® rings a bell, you’re not crazy. Indeed, Kenney brought the exhibition to the Shenandoah Valley once before, but rest assured you’re not going to see the same sculptures this time. Well … maybe two of the same sculptures, but that’s because they’re iconic and beloved. Perhaps you’ll recognize the hummingbird and the monarch? Don’t be surprised if you happen upon the real-life versions of these gigantic, beautiful renditions. They’re well situated in appropriate places for such an encounter.
Nature Connects® Brings Awareness
One of the most remarkable sculptures is the nearly 12-foot-long piece called “Disappearing Rhino,” created to appear life size from one vantage point and virtually disappear from another. It’s a visual representation of the reality of the black rhino population. In fact, more bricks were required to create the sculpture than there are living black rhinos. “Disappearing Rhino” is one of the largest sculptures Kenney has ever created, requiring 726 hours of design and build time.
If “Disappearing Rhino” is a tear-jerker, wait until you see “Dodo,” a memorial monument to the extinct bird. The LEGO® pedestal upon which the dodo stands shows the species’ decline to extinction from 1583 to 1681. The dodo once populated Mauritius, an African island country in the Indian Ocean. Since the dodo was never photographed, Sean and his team relied on historical records to create the sculpture as accurately as possible.
If you think this artistry seems inconceivable for one man to accomplish on his own, you’d be right. Sean Kenney has a team of artists working with him to create and assemble each sculpture, which requires lots of glue and plenty of steel reinforcement. The exhibition travels the world, and each sculpture must withstand elements, as well as transport. “Team work makes the dream work,” as they say.
Visiting Nature Connects®
See the exhibit at The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. With the exception of Labor Day on September 4, the exhibition is closed on Mondays.
Admission 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. Active duty military and their families receive complimentary admission.
Save 20% on admission when you purchase your tickets in advance here.
Header Image: “Mother Polar Bear and Cubs” by Sean Kenney as part of his Nature Connects® exhibition. This sculpture required 133,263 bricks and took 1,048 hours to complete. It weighs 625 lbs. Photo courtesy of The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.