The model of Columbus fills the entire exhibition room at the Columbus Museum of Art. Credit: Tristan Relet-Werkmeister | Lantern Reporter

The room seems almost too small for the thousands of bricks assembled together. The guests who enter the gallery are immediately dazzled — eyes wide with astonishment and mouths open in awe.

Visitors usually pause for a moment at the threshold of the exhibition when they come face to face with the giant LEGO model of downtown Columbus built by the Columbus LEGO club, OhioLUG. This model and Buckeye football fan LEGO artwork, such as a model of the entrance to The Shoe, are currently featured in “Think Outside the Brick” at the Columbus Museum of Art.

“I always loved LEGO as a child,” Molly Selan, president of OhioLUG, said. “Typically people get away from it, and then you kind of come back into it.”

The exhibition is organized every year for the holiday season and while some pieces have been in the exhibition since its conception, most are rotated out. Selan reached out to the 24 members of her club in September to prepare for the exhibition and coordinate the different pieces to include.

“[The exhibition] sparks an interest in different things that can be done with LEGO rather than just building what’s already put together into sets,” Selan said.

For this edition, exclusive new models have been added in a room dedicated to Buckeye football: The Ohio State Block “O” and a mosaic of a football player. The Brutus mosaic unveiled last year remains part of the exhibition.

“You can’t have anything better than Buckeye,” Selan said. “I always loved [them].”

The block O took a couple of years to be built because of its complex internal structure. Credit: Tristan Relet-Werkmeister | Lantern Reporter

The Buckeye Football Big Ten mosaic is composed of 22,000 pieces for a total cost of $2,000.

“Some colors are more rare than others and so they cost more,” Selan said. “LEGO is not cheap.”

For this expensive mosaic, the self-proclaimed “builders” took a photo, put it into a software to pixelate the picture and separated the piece into different plates to be assembled later on.

“[This exhibition] is a great example of … fostering creativity within our visitors, who create their own LEGO designs and sculptures when they are here,” Nannette Maciejunes, executive director of Columbus Museum of Art, said in an email.

The public can also build LEGO sculptures in the Chase Center for Creativity at the museum. A scavenger hunt with LEGO cookies and a LEGO design challenge day are also planned.

Selan said the exhibition required a lot of organization and communication, notably for the Block “O” featured in the Buckeye-themed room, which took her a couple of years to build. In fact, because building a plain block would have been too heavy, Selan said she had to create an internal structure to support the angles, allowing the piece to be transported.

For example, the skyscrapers come in three to four pieces so they can be disassembled before transportation and reassembled on site.

Selan said the focus was put on the city of Columbus and not fantasy, partially so people can realize that LEGO is not just for kids.

In total, 16 builders participated in this exhibition. The infrastructures, decoration, trailer and tables are owned by the club, but the main pieces such as buildings and skyscrapers are owned by the members.

“Think Outside the Brick” is on display at the Columbus Museum of Art until Feb. 22. Student entry to the museum is $8 and public entry is $14. Admission is free on Sundays.