We all recognize these colorful little blocks. Although I don't remember playing with them when I was a child, my kids sure enjoyed them!
Legos were invented in Billund, Denmark thanks to a carpenter named Ole Kirk Christiansen, who made wooden toys in his workshop back in 1932. Two years later he named his company "Lego" from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means "play well." Loosely interpreted from Latin it also means "I put together" and "I assemble."
By 1940 Ole's company began making plastic toys, and in 1949 they started producing the interlocking blocks, calling them "automatic binding bricks." Sales went poorly because plastic toys weren't regarded as highly as wooden ones, and many shipments were returned!
In 1954 Ole's son, Godtfred, took over as managing director and spoke with an overseas distributor about the building brick as part of a toy system. And the rest, as they say, is history. The modern Lego brick was patented on January 28, 1958; bricks from that year are still compatible with current bricks.
Not only can you buy the Lego bricks, but you can also visit Legoland!
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen opened the first Legoland in Billund, Denmark in 1968 on 9 acres of land where all the buildings, landscapes and vehicles were built using standard LEGO bricks.
California's Legoland opened in 1999, is a LOT bigger, situated on 128 acres and has an amusement park, restaurants, and shops, with Lego built animals and structures throughout the park.
photo courtesy of www.legoland.com
LEGOLAND Windsor outside of London opened in 1996, and LEGOLAND Deutschland in Germany opened the Spring of 2002. LEGOLAND Florida will open in the fall of 2011.
I wonder what old Ole would think of Nathan Sawaya.
Nathan was a lawyer but he loved making things with Legos. Then he won a contest with Legos and was offered a job to work for them at one of their new theme parks. Eventually he opened an art studio and now sells his commissioned art pieces made of Legos like the ones shown below.
Rebirth of New Orleans (66" x 42" x 64")
Piata 5 (no measurements found)
Swimmer (could not find measurements - just said "lifesize")
Circle Triangle Square (72" x 70" x 16")
This is the artist standing next to his creation of Stephen Colbert:
Big Bear (22 x 55 x 36)
Mt. Rushmore Replica (59" x 25" x 29")
Gray (45" x 45" x 15")
Grasp (30" x 67" x 30")
Yellow (35" x 13" x 38")
Reflection (28" x 48" x 20")
I think Ole Kirk Christiansen would be proud, don't you?
Sawaya’s art is currently touring North American museums in a show titled, The Art of the Brick. Visit his website to check where he is touring, to learn more about him, and to see more of his brilliant work.
(information for this post was gathered from Wikipedia, Legoland.com, and Nathan Sawaya's website.)