This summer, to mark the 60th anniversary of the LEGO® brick, the American-Scandinavian Foundation presents an exhibition saluting the LEGO Group as a leader of learning through play, LEGO® Bricks: A Celebration! Featuring sculptures, mosaics, and interactive play zones by renowned LEGO® Certified Professional artist Sean Kenney, the exhibition will also include an overview of the LEGO Group’s history and educational mission, as well as a variety of children’s workshops at Scandinavia House from April 28 through August 4, 2018.
Free play is how children develop their imagination and is the foundation for creativity. It is the LEGO Group’s philosophy that ‘good quality play’ enriches a child’s life, and lays the foundation for later adult life. Along with young builders, many architects, designers and artists use the LEGO brick to create new worlds of their own. On view in the exhibition are an array of sculptures and wall pieces by Brooklyn-based artist Sean Kenney, featuring iconic architecture, patterns inspired by the Moorish tiles of southern Spain, and a series of works dedicated to exploring the interconnectedness of nature. Accompanied by descriptive panels, viewers can discover the myriad ways the LEGO brick can be used, and an interactive play zone—featuring 30,000 loose LEGO bricks—will inspire builders of all ages to explore the creative potential of their imagination.
The exhibition will coincide with the presentation of the Distinguished Public Service Award to the LEGO Group at the annual ASF Gala on May 10, 2018.
LEARNING THROUGH PLAY
Most Scandinavians have grown up with what is often called the “Nordic ideal” — that is, to offer their young children a “good childhood.” In fact, to cultivate this value, in most Nordic countries children are not encouraged to enroll in any form of structured academic instruction before age seven. Instead, children are given opportunities to learn by playing and to play by learning. Young children learn about their world by exploring familiar surroundings by themselves and with others in joyful settings, with freedom to choose what to do and how long to do it. This child-centric approach has demonstrated success in preparing children for more structured learning experiences as they grow older, either self-directed or as part of formal school curricula.
Since the company was founded by carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen in Billund, Denmark in 1932, the LEGO Group has been committed to children’s creativity, and to play and learning, as demonstrated in their company name: “LEge GOdt” (Play Well). It has been a leader in early childhood development through its emphasis on re-defining play as a central arena for learning. “Play” can mean many kinds of experiences, from play that gives children the freedom to explore and discover with minimal constraints, to play that is more guided or structured. The nature of a child’s play activity will vary — depending on age, context and culture — and their skills will increase in complexity. However, the basic structures of these skills are present right from early infancy, and are supported and strengthened by high-quality play experiences.
In 1955, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, the son of Ole Kirk Kristiansen, launched the LEGO® System in Play. Determined to concentrate on the system’s basic idea, Godtfred Kirk set out to create a small and manageable number of elements. In 1958, the LEGO® brick launched with the coupling principle we know today, opening up to endless building possibilities. Designed on the principle that all blocks should interlock and be interrelated, that system became the foundation of the modern-day LEGO® System in Play.