Building Renaissance Men One Block at a Time

The Getty Museum was full of art lovers describing perceptions far more interesting than those of the person before them and small groups of children trying not to snicker every time they passed a painting of an exposed backside. It was culture and we liked it.

“This,” I said to my son, “is the work of Michelangelo. Have you heard of him?”

“The turtle?” he asked.

“What do you know about the Ninja Turtles?” Apparently I had missed the memo that everything old was new again. Again.

“The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are awesome,” he said. “I didn’t know they could paint.”

“They also eat pizza,” I said.

“Can we go?” he asked. “I’m hungry.”

It is amazing, really, how many things from my childhood have remained ingrained in pop culture. That isn’t necessarily the case for the generations before. Obviously there are exceptions (Superman, Lincoln), but none of the kids are playing Little Rascals or Howdy Doody on the playground these days. It makes me wonder if it is a result of accessible technology, our love affair with media and celebrity, or if the old shows were too politically incorrect to continue. If anyone writes their thesis on this I expect an acknowledgement.

The other option, of course, is that the stuff we grew up with is just really, really cool. Case in point, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Who doesn’t love their heroes in a half shell?


The day the box arrived from LEGO I took it into the living room and said, “Who wants to study famous artists?”

“Ah,” they answered. “Do we have to?”

“Yes,” I said. “We do.”

I let them open the box, which contained two LEGO sets from the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line: Turtle Lair Attack and Shredder’s Dragon Bike, respectively.

tmnt lego lair

“Yes!” they screamed, along with other things that I couldn’t understand due to the ringing in my ears.

“Wait,” I said. “The turtles are each named after a Renaissance artist, and if you want to create with these LEGO sets you first need to learn about the art they created.”

“They made art with LEGO sets?” they asked.

Also, “What’s a ranasaunce?”

We spent an hour on the computer pulling up the great works of Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo, and at one point they even forgot that they hated it.

“Michelangelo!” said my oldest. “I’ve seen his art in real life!”

“Cool, right?” I asked.

“Daddy,” said the youngest. “Can we order a pizza?”

“I think we have to.”

The day drifted well into the night, and we spent it building, talking, and covered in cheese. It was our own little renaissance, and we liked it.

Turtle Shredder LEGO


Whit HoneaRead more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).



The LEGO sets discussed above were provided by LEGO. I paid for the pizza myself.  Mmm, pizza.

Article Posted 4 years Ago

Videos You May Like