18. A museum dedicated to plastic interlocking bricks
The Lego Group began selling their plastic bricks in 1949. Since then, the Danish company has produced over 600 billion bricks and associated parts. It also expanded into board and video games, films, clothing, and amusement parks. In 2011 LEGO kits (as they are styled) flew in space, assembled by the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The official LEGO Museum, operated by the company, is located in Bilund, Denmark, the international company’s headquarters. An interactive museum and educational facility is located in LEGO House. Other LEGO museums exist, some affiliated with the company or its various subsidiaries. But in one small Ohio community, Bellaire (population 4,000), there exists a museum dedicated to LEGO in everything but name. Known as the Toy and Plastic Brick Museum it claims within its collection the largest LEGO construct in the world. It depicts a semi-truck and trailer.
The museum, housed in a former school building, presents statues built by Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOL) and LEGO Users Groups (LUG). The existence of such formalized entities indicates the extent by which LEGO has permeated culture in its 70-odd years of existence. After the museum received certification from Guinness World Records of holding the world’s largest LEGO structure the company forbade the use of its name. Thus, the Toy and Plastic Brick designation for a museum displaying structures entirely from LEGO. As with other museums, the Bellaire facility began with a private collection, and expanded into the collections on display, supported by the enthusiastic LEGO community. The museum covers three floors of a former middle school building, which houses the world’s largest privately held collection of LEGO objects.