Builder Showcases Buffalo Soldier Units in Museum’s New Lego Exhibit – Leavenworth Times

Charlotte Richer
Fort Leavenworth lamp

The Frontier Army Museum installed a new exhibit featuring Lego vignettes of milestone moments in Buffalo Soldier history Sept. 8 next to the wagon exhibit. The exhibition is accessible to visitors throughout the year. The exhibit, built by retired Lt. Col. Joe Hammond, includes nine Lego dioramas detailing the work of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, including their roles in the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, the Mexican Punitive Expedition, the installing a telephone line, mapping the southwest and securing the first transcontinental railroad.

Hammond said his interest in building Lego exhibits began in Fort Stewart, Georgia, when his son started volunteering at museums during summer vacation. Hammond said he built a World War II Lego exhibit for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Museum in Fort Bliss, Texas – where his son volunteered – which was on display from 2017 to 2019. He also built Lego displays for audiences at Leavenworth. Library.

Hammond said when his family moved to Fort Leavenworth, he suggested his son volunteer at the Frontier Army Museum, and so they toured the museum with museum technician Megan Hunter. He said he noticed an opportunity to display more information about the Buffalo Soldiers and he suggested another Lego display.

Hammond worked with librarians at Hunter and Combined Arms Research Library to find inspiration through photos and archived articles. He said that during his research he found several recurring themes, such as the protection of the railroad and the conflicts in Mexico, which helped him format the overall exhibit.

“The only (construction) that is a specific recreation of a photo I found is the (25th Infantry Bicycle Corps thumbnail). Everything else is kind of my interpretation of what I read…a snapshot of an activity they did in the 50 years that (the 9th and 10th Cavalry) were on the US frontier.

Hammond said he also chose events based on his ability to build each scene with relevant and approachable parts.

“A few (the thumbnails) happened very quickly, and usually it’s about building the idea in my head and then seeing if I have the parts on hand or seeing if I should buy the part and order it, then try to get it to come together,” Hammond said.

“Cattle rustlers (vignette) were easy to do, except I don’t own cows (Lego) because they are very expensive, so I had to borrow cows from someone else.”

He said that for Lego pieces he might not have but needed to build, he innovates or buys them from Brick Link, an online community that buys and sells pieces.

“Trying to do things that are historically accurate is fun, or finding new ways to use a piece that no one has really made before, or (seeing) someone else build something in a certain way that doesn’t It’s not something Lego did…. Lego doesn’t do military stuff at all.

Hammond said he pays attention to detail in his Lego builds. For example, he said he pulled the blue cavalry uniform torsos from some of the Lego minifigures featured from a Lego set from the movie “Lone Ranger” and the Native American torsos from sets designed in the 1980s. 1990. He said his wife designed decals for army uniforms on other Lego minifigures to replicate historically accurate clothing in each scene.

He said he hopes visitors viewing the exhibit will enjoy the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and the alternative use of Lego.

Hunter said the museum had never installed a Lego exhibit before and she stressed the importance of building fun into the museum realm.

“We pride ourselves on being family friendly, but the museum doesn’t necessarily have exhibits that play on a child’s imagination, and this is an opportunity to highlight that,” Hunter said. “(The story) doesn’t have to be boring and outdated, it can be fun, and Lego is a great way to tell the story in a nice, fun, and colorful way – it’s “ludo- educative “.” Hammond said he will continue to build and participate in large-scale builds with KC Brick Lab, a club for adult Lego fans with more than 500 members online and about 80 members actively building Lego together. He said his goal was to build an exhibit for the World War I museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Frontier Army Museum is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

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