PROVO — The BYU library is the home of a summer blockbuster, and you’d better hurry if you want to catch it before it’s gone.

More than 45,000 people have visited “Brick Upon Brick,” an interactive exhibit of huge Lego recreations of the Salt Lake Temple, Tabernacle, Assembly Hall and Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

It is the same number of people who attended the sold-out Stadium of Fire concert and fireworks show at LaVell Edwards Stadium on the Fourth of July.

And, to borrow a phrase from a Christmas song, visitors to the Lego exhibit are kids from 1 to 92. At one point on Friday, about 65 people filled the 900-square-foot room in BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library.

Some crowded around the massive Joseph Smith Memorial Building. “It’s my favorite because it’s so big and has an American flag on it and the lanterns light up,” said Adelyn Hansen, 8, of Mountain Green, Utah.

Adelyn, like most of the other children, spent a long time building her own Lego creations on one of three large boards on the walls. She made a design in one place and spelled out “Freedom” in another. Her older sister, Olivia, 11, has “a ton” of Lego sets at home, including Harry Potter, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast and Lego Friends.

Olivia’s favorite piece in the exhibit was one of two Lego images of Jesus Christ on the walls. She added to a Lego bridge built from one board to another, adding the first two words to the phrase, “I am a child of God.”

“It’s awesome,” Olivia said of the exhibit. “I’ve never seen such big Legos before.”

The builder, David Jungheim, is a retired Apache helicopter pilot who fought terrorists in Afghanistan. A decade ago, he built a 6-foot-tall Lego replica of the Salt Lake Temple that the BYU library displayed.

“Then people started paying me,” said Jungheim, who has built nine commissioned pieces for five separate buyers over the past eight years. Some of those new creations are part of the exhibit, but there were other reasons to revisit Legos at the library.

A grandmother called library curator Trevor Alvord to angrily protest the removal of the temple Lego in 2015 before she could bring her grandkids. That’s been a motivation to follow up with this much larger exhibit.

Grandmothers certainly helped drive traffic to the exhibit this week, when over 3,000 visitors enjoyed the Legos on Wednesday and Friday alone, Alvord said. Shelley Bracken, who buys Legos for her grandchildren — including Olivia and Adelyn — suggested Friday’s family outing and smiled through the family’s entire visit, especially as they showed a reporter their own creations.

That’s one point of the exhibit, said Alvord, the BYU Special Collections curator.

“We can experience godly satisfaction when we inspire others to create,” he said. “That’s another model of our Heavenly Parents watching us create and the joy that they must have seeing what we’re capable of doing as their children.”

Added Jungheim: “We’re offspring of the most creative being in the universe.”

Alvord said Legos are powerful because they spark creation.

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“What then Dave has done, putting a heavenly and a gospel frame to it, is extremely powerful and is resonating with our Latter-day Saint community,” he said.

Jungheim, who was born in Hamburg, Germany, and emigrated to the United States as a 9-year-old in 1983, loves to populate his creations with Star Wars “Easter eggs.” Here’s Obi-Wan Kenobi painted gold and repurposed as the Angel Moroni atop the Salt Lake Temple. There’s R2-D2 on top of the Joseph Smith Building. And don’t miss Yoda battling seagulls outside the Assembly Hall.

On his knees, a man proposes to a woman outside the Salt Lake Temple, his little Lego hand holding a large ring.

Jungheim’s visit to the exhibit caused a frenzy. He was continually surrounded as people peppered him with praise and questions. He even gave his first autograph.

A woman in her 50s making her first visit to campus wanted to know how Jungheim built the dome for the Salt Lake Tabernacle: Surely these weren’t original Lego pieces, she said.

Jungheim said the man who commissioned the Tabernacle refused to let him use a 3D printer to make special pieces, but he did allow Jungheim to alter pieces.

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So Jungheim spent 300 hours using a custom bandsaw and table saw jigs to alter 7,500 pieces. He added 500 hidden hinge pieces on the inside and kept the roof tiles in place with Methyl Ethyl Ketone, a solvent that official Lego staffers use when they create large builds for Disney.

Jungheim said he built and used trusses in the same places where the pioneer architects and builders used them in the Tabernacle in the mid-1800s.

The Tabernacle took 1,200 hours and 24,000 Lego bricks to build.

Jungheim adores detail. When he learned Lego had discontinued the green tiles that would match the temple’s roof, he tracked some down in Russia.

He tried to have a trophy store engrave the famous gold words on the side of the Salt Lake Temple — “Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord ...” — but the Lego tile kept melting. So McGee’s Stamp and Trophy made a plaque for that space and Jungheim painted the words with wooden toothpick and gold paint.

The exhibit captures a slice of life for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“We want to show how members are using Legos to build and share their faith, literally and figuratively,” Alvord said.

“The official Lego architectural sets are great. They’re fun,” he said, “but for most people here they’ve driven past these buildings, they’ve experienced them, they’ve walked past them. These buildings have been a part of their life and who they are. To see them be honored in 1,200 hours of painstaking toil, going brick by brick, I think gives people a lot of enjoyment, as well as a lot of appreciation for what our church and what our religion means to them as well as to others.”


Tyler Tiberius brought his four oldest children to the exhibit Friday because their grandmother said they would love it. The boys — Marcus, 15; James, 13; Christian, 11; and Max, 8 — said one of their favorite Lego sets at home is a Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck. As for the exhibit, Tyler liked the Lego mosaic of the Savior best, and Marcus most appreciated one of the Second Coming.

The family, which lives in Springville, comes to campus often for sporting events, to bowl, to shop at the bookstore and, in Tyler’s case, to mentor young entrepreneurs. When he and the boys left the exhibit, they were headed for pupusas at the El Salvador Restaurant on Center Street.

The Hansens already had purchased their favorite treat from the BYU Store.

“We went and bought fudge,” said Alexa Hansen, mother to Olivia and Adelyn. “That’s a must!”

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