And what brings you to the mansion on this glorious day? This past weekend, April 16th and 17th, were two Spring days that embodied the essence of the “budding” season and were a perfect reason to be on the Lyndhurst estate grounds in Tarrytown, NY. It was also the annual Lyndhurst Family Fun Day which showcases the creative works of all emerging, and in some cases well-established, LEGO masters aged 5 to 72. What an amazing opportunity for mostly children to participate as exhibitors and viewers of LEGO construction art. The Lyndhurst mansion, a 19th c. gothic-revival gem, is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and one of the most exquisite sites in the Hudson Valley. My personal history with the Lyndhurst property goes back at least 25 years, when I first attended the bi-annual Crafts at Lyndhurst, usually held in September and May; the summer concerts; the Rose Garden show; the lectures in the Carriage House, and even an occasional Kennel Club Dog Show. I always sensed something magical about the estate and I am now beginning my second year as a volunteer and potential docent. It’s rewarding for me to contribute and be a part of the landscape I find inspirational and refreshingly spiritual.
The little plastic interlocking LEGO blocks offer endless visual and engineering
opportunities as well as challenges for children to explore and create. My monitoring assignment inside the mansion allowed me to observe and protect these little plastic constructions from possible destruction as 2 to 4 foot high viewers were compelled to handle them. The Lyndhurst curators of this event deserve enormous credit for conceiving this juxtaposition of the classical ornamental antiquity of the mansion as a backdrop stage for these petite plastic new assemblies. It was quite an incongruous meeting of OLD and NEW and YOUNG and OLD. As this was “Family Fun Day,” it was wonderful to see how many families had children who were “constructionists,” but who also introduced their kids to this exhibit in the environs of a historically preserved landmark. I was impressed
to see the many ethnicities and varying nationalities of the families who attended this exhibition with gusto; and their awesome appreciation of the interiors of the house as well as the displayed creations. On the whole, these parents took advantage of a ‘beautiful day at the mansion.’
One very imaginative and abstract LEGO piece entitled “Brainstorming,” stood out among the recognizable edifices and array of multi-purpose vehicles. I respectfully requested clarification of the unrecognizable random forms with “eyes” from the single-digit creator, and received, with assistance from her Mom, a very technical explanation. I shall attempt to paraphrase my interpretation of her description: “Brainstorming” was about finding channels, i.e., entranceways, to corruptive sites and structures in the brain – pretty heavy - but what a
concept! I should also mention that the father of this child was a neuroscientist. It was evident that there was much parental guidance and/or participation in these LEGO projects. And to the other extreme, across the hall, settled on the entire expanse of a marble radiator cover, was a magnificent collection of shrines of an Eastern Indian appearance. The master engineer, who admitted his age to be 72, said he collaborated with his 5 year old grandchild. The designer proudly posed for me next to his exhibit and also explained that all the temples housed independent deities of Hindu origin, there was also one church (one God).
The primary colors and basic plastic palette of the LEGO bricks had their day in the grandeur of the manse with its subdued Victorian shades enriched with elegant gold, bronze, mahogany and marble. It was a day of OLD and NEW.