Need something to do with your kids? Take them to see famous art recreated with Legos.

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Half of the people who enter “The Art of the Brick” exhibition will exit with one simple question: Why?

Does the world really need its great works of art recreated in Lego bricks? Would Michelangelo or Monet or Vermeer approve of having their masterpieces rendered in a cheap, plastic children’s toy?

Is this stuff even art?

If you go

“The Art of the Brick” is on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science” and will be included in regular museum admission through Labor Day. Because of the current pandemic, all tickets must be reserved in advance online. Info at 303-370-6000 or dmns.org.

But the other half will likely ask this: Why not?

What’s the harm in remixing a few classics in the name of fun? And why not generate a bit of wonder while teaching kids some art history in a vocabulary they can comprehend?

I’m in the second group. Enthusiastically. The just-opened touring exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is fascinating in a believe-it-or-not kind of way that makes it a crowd-pleaser while doubling as an engaging educational outing. This offering isn’t for art snobs, though art snobs of the future may get their start here.

That’s because the first part of the exhibit plays out like a greatest hits collection of European art, all recreated by Nathan Sawaya, a former attorney who gave up his practice to sit on the floor and play with Legos all day and who managed to turn that into a lucrative career.

He’s got a keen eye, nimble fingers and enough patience to stack 4,332 bricks into a replica of Auguste Rodin’s 1881 “The Thinker.” Or to convert 4,573 of the tiny, interlocking pieces into a facsimile  of Leonardo da Vinci’s 1503 “Mona Lisa.” Or to fashion 3,493 of them into Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 “Starry Night.”

There are also versions of Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring,” Grant Woods’ “American Gothic,” plus “Venus de Milo,” the famous, armless icon attributed to the Greek sculptor Alexandros, and other favorites.

The subject matter is instantly recognizable to most adults, but it’s a whole new universe to young people and one they might avoid if not for the familiar medium.

Surely, there’s a lot more to the cultural canon than what this exhibit’s lineup holds, and from the parts of the globe Western critics and curators have historically overlooked, but there’s more than enough oldies but goodies to spark curiosity and get kids thinking and speaking in the language of painters and other creative object makers. Parents and teachers can take it from there.

Is this stuff art? Here, I’ll take a critical stand: I don’t think so. Sawaya’s replicas are actually someone else’s art, inventively rendered. They’re not ripoffs; they’re more like creative homages, and so the title of the exhibit is a stretch.

But the plastic versions do win you over because of the skill they require to make. It’s not so simple to recreate the rich oranges, reds and yellows of a Monet oil painting using the limited palette of mass-produced children’s toys. It’s doubly difficult to clone the continuously curvy brushstrokes of a piece like “Starry Night” or the sinewy muscles of a Degas ballerina using only flat edges and right angles. Legos have their limits, and Sawaya sees beyond them, at least well enough to land exhibits at galleries around the globe and to maintain studios in both New York and Los Angeles.

Sawaya’s more imaginative side comes through the exhibit’s second section, where his original creations are on display, and which probably move closer to something we all might agree is art. For this work, he transforms LEGOS into abstract versions of familiar forms. There’s a peace sign, some skulls, a giant dinosaur, a young couple stuck in a kiss.

There are also some more complex objects that make this part of the exhibit interesting. One is a piece called “Hands,” where 15,161 LEGO bricks are shaped into a male form whose hands have literally broken off and fallen to the ground. Sawaya says it comes from his nightmare of losing the use of his most important creative tool.

There’s another piece, titled “Grasp” in which another male form, this one rendered in bright red, appears to be constrained from movement by a series of six, disembodied gray hands positioned at various parts of his torso. “Life’s challenge is to find the strength to break free” and follow your dreams, Sawaya explains in his artist statement.

Other pieces dig deeper. In “Despair,” a figure is crouched on the ground with its head down and its hands covering its eyes. Another, called “Gray,” has a mysterious head escaping through some sort of solid wall and revealing itself to the world.

It’s hard to know how seriously to take these objects; they’re made out of Legos, and it’s tempting to dismiss them, and maybe you should. But I always respect when artists give up a piece of their inner-brain and share it with others. There’s bravery to that, and these objects deserve a look from exhibition visitors.

And not just from older visitors. Kids feel despair, too, and sometimes they feel mysterious forces holding them back. This exhibit seems like a chance for guardians to work through some heavier concepts with their charges, with the Legos making the opening possible.

Or maybe I’m just searching for some deeper meaning to justify the fact that I enjoyed this show. Like I said, art snobs have their issues.

But this exhibit has its rewards, some built on fascination, others on familiarity, many of them linked to the nostalgia that grown-ups feel about this particular toy. It’s a good time and you might want to go, especially if you also happen to like rocks and animals and the other earth-friendly attractions the DMNS specializes in.

Like I said, again: Why not?

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