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News, Find the Future: Patience and Fortitude Celebrate 100 Years

May 20, 2011

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The New York Public Library’s iconic marble lions Patience and Fortitude turn 100 years old on May 20, 2011, and to honor the occasion, famed artist Nathan Sawaya has created two mini-versions of the lions... out of more than 60,000 gray LEGO blocks.

The two LEGO Leos are half the size of the actual lions, nearly six-feet-long and three-feet-wide. They will be on public view on the Fifth Avenue Plaza from May 20 until May 22 during a weekend festival marking the 100th birthday of the actual building, which opened two days after the lions—sculpted by Edward Clark Potter—arrived.

"When the Library called to ask if I could help commemorate the lions’ centennial, I had no hesitation," Sawaya said. "However, of all the famous icons I have been commissioned to recreate, Patience and Fortitude are by far the oldest. I can only hope that my LEGO versions withstand the test of time, and of course are in the next Ghostbusters movie!"

It took Sawaya, a long-time New Yorker and NYU graduate with a studio in downtown Manhattan, three weeks to complete the LEGO lions. Sawaya has created LEGO sculptures of talk show host Conan O’Brien, currently has a traveling museum exhibition, The Art Of The Brick, and has had an outdoor installation in Central Park. Appropriately, The Lion King is his favorite movie.

The Library’s Centennial festival will include programming for adults and children, story-telling programs with celebrities, free ice cream from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and much, much more. Visit nypl.org/findthefuture/100 for more details

The New York Public Library's Centennial Festival is made possible through an endowment established by family and friends of the late Richard B. Salomon, and by Bank of America, The Skeel Fund, MetLife Foundation, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Asprey, Wells Fargo, Celeste Bartos, The Wall Street Journal, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Titan, WABC-TV/Channel 7, Penguin Classics, Engine Yard, and Gotham Magazine.