The Colosseum in Lego

A reconstruction of the Roman Colosseum made with Lego bricks, on display at the Nicholson Museum in Sydney

Not all archaeology exhibitions are dusty old bones and stones in glass cases. And lego is no longer only used to build houses. Now we have the Roman Colosseum, Rome’s most famous landmark and archaeological site, reconstructed entirely using lego in a museum in Sydney. It’s Lego Colosseum!

The Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney in Australia has created a wonderfully innovative display of the Colosseum using over a quarter of a million pieces of lego, right down to the gory detail of the gladiatorial games. The model is the work of LEGO certified Ryan ‘Vitruvius’ McNaught, which forms the playful centrepiece of an exhibition about the World-famous amphitheatre at the Nicholson.

The museum has had an incredible response to Lego Colosseum. While the exhibition at the Nicholson closes in June 2013, this is not the end of the road for Lego Colosseum; it will tour Australia stopping off at eight museums and art galleries. And what next for the Nicholson … Lego Acropolis!

My thanks to Michael Turner, Senior Curator at the The Nicholson Museum, for sending these fantastic photographs of Lego Colosseum and permission to reproduce them here. Anyone who has spent hours building things out of lego bricks will be able to appreciate the look of absolute delight in the childrens faces as they gaze in awe at the Colosseum.

Lego Colosseum in the Nicholson Museum

The Lego Colosseum on display in the Nicholson Museum

Clearly, a popular exhibit – as anyone who has spent hours with Lego would know.

A captivating Lego Colosseum

And it is not just the children who seem to be captivated by Lego Colosseum

Lego gladiator games

And it is not just the architectural structure that has been reproduced in Lego bricks, but also the Gladiator sports in the arena – even the exotic animals, note the crocodile.

The Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine

The detail of the exhibit is amazing, or anyone who has been to Rome and the Colosseum will recognise the life-like trees. And of course the Arch of Constantine in the background, where it should be.

Lego Roman Legion

No reconstruction of the Colosseum would be complete with out the Roman Legion.

The Colosseum today

And for a contemporary comparison, the legion outside the Coloseum today.

The Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney was founded in 1860 by Sir Charles Nicholson, the University’s Chancellor between 1854 and 1862, when he donated his private collection of antiquities to the University. The Nicholson is Australia’s oldest university museum. And since the 1860s the collection has been enhanced by donations, bequests as well as the funding of excavations in Egypt. Today the museum houses the largest collection of Classical antiquities in Australia and the southern hemisphere. The Near East, Cyprus, Egypt and Medieval Europe are also well represented in the museums collection.

For more about Roman amphitheatres, see the Guide to Amphitheatres in the Roman World, which includes a map of all known amphitheatres in the various countries around the Mediterranean.