Meet LEGO Artist Sean Kenney at MOBOT on July 12

Playing with LEGOs all day doesn’t exactly sound like work. And yet Sean Kenney, the New York-based artist behind the Missouri Botanical Garden’s wildly popular Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks exhibit, has made a career doing just that.    

Kenney uses LEGO pieces to design and create awe-inspiring sculptures for venues around the world, and even writes children’s books designed to spark kids’ imaginations and teach them about all the amazing ways to create with his favorite building toys.

His latest exhibit at MOBOT features 25 larger-than-life LEGO brick sculptures, all inspired by the natural world and built using over 300,000 LEGO pieces. A majestic bald eagle, a beautiful monarch butterfly and a giant praying mantis are among the nature-themed installations all currently on display in the Garden’s Climatron through September 7.

On Saturday, July 12, Sean Kenney will be here in St. Louis, visiting the Garden from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to discuss his creative process. Be sure to bring the kids, because he is also expected to talk about what it’s like to have one of the coolest jobs in the world.

In addition to talking about his work, Kenney will also be judging the final round of MOBOT’s LEGO Brick Buildtanical Challenge. The contest is now closed to new entries, but all builders chosen as finalists will have their sculptures on display at the Garden on July 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kenney himself will judge the sculptures according to the following criteria: Building skill, Creativity and originality, Interpretation theme and Presentation.

Contest winners in each category (from child through professional) will be awarded prize packages that include Garden memberships, tickets to special Garden events and – as you might expect – LEGO merchandise.  

To view some of the impressive Buildtanical Challenge entries, log on to the Missouri Botanical Garden Facebook page or, better yet, plan to visit the Garden on July 12. The opportunity to meet Sean Kenney in person and view the sculptures created by the Buildtanical Challenge finalists is included with regular Garden admission. A separate admission fee is required if you plan to visit the Nature Connects exhibit.   

And while you’re visiting, don’t forget to take the kids to the “Nature on Your Neighborhood” exhibit in the Brookings Interpretive Center – and of course to play in the Children’s Garden. Since it’s a Saturday, Children’s Garden admission is free to St. Louis City and County residents from 9 a.m. to noon.

Admission to meet visiting artist Sean Kenney and view the Buildtanical Challenge finals on July 12 is included with regular Garden admission. Admission to the Nature Connects exhibit is $6 for non-member adults and $5 for non-member children (ages 3-12), and $4 for adult members and $3 for member’s children (ages 3-12). This is in addition to regular Garden admission. To learn more about any of these upcoming events or their admission fees, visit or call (314) 577-5100.  

Main photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden. Inside photos by Julia Bollman.

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Alyssa Chirco is a freelance writer, mother and margarita lover, not necessarily in that order. In addition to writing for STL Parent, she is Contributing Editor at Parenting Squad, and covers parenting, health and lifestyle topics for publications across the country. She recently moved from the suburbs of St. Louis to a small town in rural Jefferson County, where she is learning to survive with no Target or Starbucks in sight. Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaChirco


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