Do you consider yourself a block-aholic? A culture tourist? Well, a traveling show that unites our love for both LEGO and world heritage culture has recently landed in Shanghai.
The show, aptly titled PIECE OF PEACE: UNESCO World Art Exhibition was first conceived in Japan back in 2003, and has since toured all around the island nation along with Taiwan and Hong Kong. The Shanghai leg at Joy City Changfeng marks its first appearance in mainland China, and it will be parking here for three months. There are 40 UNESCO World Heritage models on display, representing 28 countries and regions from around the world. Think the Pyramid of Giza, The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, Hagia Sophia, Taj Mahal and The Statue of Liberty – all brought together under one roof.
Replica of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey
LEGO-literate readers will appreciate the time and effort invested in building these true-to-life models. Supervised by certified master builder, Kazuyoshi Naoe, these replicas are composed of more than 410,000 LEGO blocks. The model of Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia alone comprises 25,000 bricks, which allegedly took Naoe and an assistant 25 days to complete.
Replica of Gaudí's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain; detail of church façade featuring trumpeting angels and Nativity scenes
LEGO mastery aside, the exhibition also accounts for the history of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the listing process. Each model is labeled with the name of the site, the year it was listed and its heritage category (cultural, natural, mixed), along with a short description highlighting the site’s significance to its mother culture and wider humanity. In alignment with UNESCO’s founding philosophy, which strives to foster peace through education, science and culture, PIECE OF PEACE also aims to ignite a sense of wonder in every visitor.
In the spirit of inspiring, the show also features a short documentary narrated by Japanese astronaut, Takuya Onishi. The film documents a series of images of Earth taken with a telephoto lens. From awe-inspiring geographical formations such as Mount Fuji and the Great Salt Lake to natural phenomena like typhoons to aurora borealis. All shots which were captured by Onishi during his four-month mission at the International Space Station in 2016, offer an unusual perspective on how we perceive the world around us.
Models of Mount Fuji, Sydney Opera House, and more
Injected with wonder, kids can hop next door to the ‘Brick by Brick’ play area, where four LEGO stations await them to create an original structure. Should you wish to take a piece of World Heritage home, the pop-up store near the exit has a limited range of LEGO sets for sale.
LEGO play stations
The Palace of Westminster, Taj Mahal and the Statue of Liberty LEGO sets on offer
All in all, PIECE OF PEACE is a compact yet informative exhibition suitable for visitors of all ages. If it doesn’t quench your thirst for everything LEGO, be sure to ascend another floor from the main exhibition area, where the fun-packed LEGOLAND Discovery Center awaits.
[All images by Mandy Tie/Urban Family]