Editorial: Fun display of civic pride

Published May 26, 2017

The Vinik family's sponsorship of a free Lego exhibit in Tampa this summer is welcome news for two particular reasons.

First, it's fun. Called "The Art of the Brick," the touring exhibit of imaginative Lego creations is a colorful, whimsical display that will appeal to kids and adults alike. Artist Nathan Sawaya's use of ordinary Legos to replicate famous works, such as Girl With a Pearl Earring by Vermeer and Rodin's The Thinker, has been drawing huge crowds and rave reviews around the world since 2007. By bringing this exhibit to Tampa, the Viniks are helping to expand and diversify the city's cultural experience. This will be a spirited attraction free and open to all that will generate new interest in the local arts scene.

Second, and as important, this act of generosity reflects the Viniks' commitment to Tampa and their appreciation for lively and participatory public space. Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife, Penny, have brought their affinity for modern art to the public before, hosting a beach ball exhibition at Amalie Arena that attracted more than 100,000 visitors. The Lego event comes as Vinik is embarking on a multibillion-dollar remake of downtown Tampa's waterfront district, with plans for new high-rise housing, restaurants, shops and offices. The Lego exhibit reflects the street-level energy that Vinik wants to foster in the channel district's new parks and other public space.

The display runs Wednesdays through Sundays, June 23 to Sept. 4, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 802 E Whiting Street, Tampa. No tickets are required. Those who want to keep the downtown buzz going should vote with their feet and show up.