Wednesday, March 23, 2011

NYC Phantasmagoria-Legos at the American Tobacco Campus

We received an e-mail about this little exhibit at the American Tobacco Campus.  So, we headed up to check it out.  Combined with a little playing in the grass, watching waterfalls, and wandering at the American Tobacco Campus and a little sweet treat from Cuban Revolution, it made for a wonderful afternoon!

What it is: NYC Phantasmagoria is a Lego exhibit created by artist Janet Henry currently located in the Strickland Lobby near Cuban Revolution.  The artist has used Legos to create a representation of New York City.  You can look at Central Park and countless skyscrapers made out of tiny blocks.  It's quite a site!

What we liked: We loved what a fantastic creation that the artist was able to make.  I also loved the creativity that it inspired in my own toddler.  When we got home, we immediately went to our blocks and started making our own big city out of our slightly bigger Legos.  In addition, while the exhibit was small and did not take long to see, when combined with several other parts of the American Tobacco Campus it made for a great afternoon for a toddler and baby with short attention spans.

What we would change: It is a small exhibit, just one beautifully crafted table.  We wish there was more for the kids to see, but understand how much went into this small space.  In addition, I felt that a stroller really helped me with my two kids.  I would not have felt comfortable with my toddler simply roaming around that table.  The stroller helped keep the kids contained and I could take them out of the stroller and hold them so that they could get a better look at the cityscape without worrying that they would knock it over!

Important information: This exhibit is located in the lobby of the Strickland Building at the American Tobacco Campus.

Dates: March 18-April 29

Hours: 9am-6pm Monday-Sunday

Press Release that I was sent:
American Tobacco, Destination for Culture and Business, Salutes A Kindred Spirit, New York City
Exhibit Challenges Visitors to Boost Durham’s Renaissance with “Big Ideas Inspired by the Big Apple”

(DURHAM) -- For artist Janet Henry, giving her regards to Broadway means recreating the iconic street, along with the rest of the isle of Manhattan, with thousands of Legos. The result is NYC Phantasmagoria, a 13 feet long rendering that highlights the city’s attractions and renowned architecture and will be on display in American Tobacco’s Strickland Lobby from March 18 through April 29. Visitors will also have a chance to comment on how downtown Durham can emulate the world’s most famous downtown.  

Henry began her epic, detailed and creative interpretation in the early 90’s and laid her final Lego brick last year.
“For millions of people around the world, even the vista of New York City is an inspiration,” says Henry. “I combined that inspiration with my fascination of the potential to create something unique and beautiful from something as simple as a child’s toy.”

NYC Phantasmagoria also makes reference to famed artists like David Hammons, Louise Nevelson and the city’s cultural organizations and institutions of higher learning. It also examines contemporary architecture, development and municipal projects.

“Around the world, New York City is a beacon for innovators and culture seekers.  It’s an inspiration for what we’re becoming at American Tobacco, and it’s a privilege to have that spirit represented here in Legos,” says Michael Goodmon, vice president of real estate for Capitol Broadcasting Company.

“American Tobacco’s creative edge is on display everyday from McKinney’s latest national ad campaign to Burt’s Bees newest sustainable product to HTC’s innovations in mobile technology.  We celebrate those in our community who think differently, create something new and strive to present the everyday in a new way.”

Visitors to NYC Phantasmagoria will have the opportunity to offer their own suggestions of ways downtown Durham can take on some New York City sized innovations and projects. Comments, drawings, songs or any other creative input can be left in a box adjacent to the exhibit marked "Big Ideas Inspired by the Big Apple.”  Some of the suggestions will make it to American Tobacco’s Facebook page. 

For more information, photos or to request an interview with Janet Henry, please contact Greg Behr at 919.272.5621 or Billy Warden at 919.412.0630.


 1. A view of the whole exhibit

2. A close-up of Central Park

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