If you’ve visited the National Museum of Scotland’s Grand Gallery recently, you’ll have noticed some intriguing activity going on in by our Build It! display. LEGO artist Warren Elsmore and his team have been constructing a beautifully detailed scale model of the museum… entirely in LEGO®! Senior Creative Alastair Disley explains more.
How did you start to design the plans for the build?
We used scale plans of the museum to lay out the first layer of bricks, and an elevation to work out the slope of the road outside and how that interacted with the building. However, the first element we designed was the double-arched windows that are such a feature of the entrance front, as conventional LEGO® arches just didn’t work. The final solution used pieces designed as car wheel-arches.
The design and build elements are intertwined, but there’s more building than designing overall.
How have the public reacted to the build?
With many questions, and lots of positive comments. In the beginning everyone wanted to know what it was, by the middle people were asking where they would be standing in the model, and as we approach the end we’re being asked if we’ll get it finished on time! But the best part is the children – hearing “Wow, that’s awesome!” is great encouragement.
What have been the biggest challenges of the build?
Putting standard LEGO® bricks on top of each other isn’t difficult, but at the 1:50 scale we’re recreating the museum at, you would lose a lot of detail. So we use bricks in unintended ways, turning some on their sides, and using “jumper” plates to move things out or in by half a LEGO® stud. All these complex geometries intersect at certain points, and it takes a lot of thinking to make sure they don’t leave big gaps.
Personally, this is my largest single model. My biggest before this was another Edinburgh building, the Scottish Parliament, which I built as my first professional LEGO® commission back in 2007.
Are there any key details to look out for in the museum build?
The doors are not LEGO® doors, but built of LEGO® bricks and plates turned on their sides, as they look more like the real thing like this. Inside, there are some fantastic LEGO® version of the exhibits, mostly built by my colleague Teresa. And the real museum has patches where old weathered stonework has been replaced with bright new masonry, and we’ve tried to mimic this with different coloured bricks – all in the right places, too!
It has been fantastic to meet so many fans of LEGO®, young and old, who have shared stories of what they have been up to with their own bricks or shown us what they created in the building area. I love visiting the museum with my children, so it has been a real privilege to model somewhere I know and enjoy.