ABOUT THE FAMILY
ἱστορεῖν παίζειν - To Do History is to Play*
The Lego Classicists Family is a project that combines pop-art and history to engage with the art and culture of the ancient world and the people who study it. The LC Family encourages everyone with a love of the ancient world to celebrate and play! It is a community of scholars and ancient history lovers brought together through a shared desire for and love of play, innovation and celebration.
Using LEGO minifigures, individual portraits of scholars and other classicists are created as gifts to the people they depict and honour, and the images are shared with stories about them and their work. The aim is to connect everyone with a love of ancient history together and share that joy through celebration and serious play. The LC Family is a growing, vibrant community brought together with a common connection to each other and the ancient world.
LC Family portraits have been displayed in a number of international museums including the British Museum, Jönköpings läns Museum, Sweden, and the Museum of Antiquities, University of New England, Australia, and in 2018 were part of a social media collaboration with the J. Paul Getty Museum. They have appeared on BBC TV and in the Italian press and have taken tours of ancient sites with a number leading scholars. LC Family members include scholars, archaeologists, curators, museum directors, conservators, archivists, media presenters and others who play a part in helping us understand the ancient world.
The LC Family portraits are not for sale and only two are made: one for the classicist themselves and one for the LC Family archive. All portraits are sent as presents to the individual subjects. Each portrait is individually and painstakingly designed and researched and they typically take months to produce. The portraits are shared on three social media platforms and this website.
Subjects are chosen in a number of ways including being known personally by the artist, coming to his attention through their work, or through suggestions from others. A deliberate attempt is made to include subjects from many different areas, not just from scholarship, to celebrate the wide-ranging ways the ancient world can be relevant and engaging in the international modern world and to deliberately expand our general understanding of the “classics” and its study and application across gender, culture and medium.
The LC Family project was begun in 2016 by Liam D. Jensen, an historical archivist and 4th generation artist, with a background in filmmaking and an interest in pop-culture. It is an entirely self-funded hobby project aimed at connecting the ancient history community and the general public through a shared love of the subject and a sense of human celebration.
*"To Do History is to Play” and its classical Greek translation is the motto of the LC Family
and is the copyright of Liam D. Jensen and Prof. John Bennet. All rights reserved.
MEET THE FAMILY
Currently the growing Lego Classicists Family consists of over 100 figures including Prof. Dame Mary Beard (Cambridge University and TV broadcaster), Stephen Fry (actor, TV broadcaster and author), Prof. Massimo Osanna (Director General of Museums, Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, Italy), Prof. Dimitrios Pandermelis (Director, Acropolis Museum), Joanna Lumley (actor and TV broadcaster), Barack Obama (44th President of the United States of America), Dr. Kara Cooney (Egyptologist and TV broadcaster), Prof. John Bennet (Director, British School at Athens), Raksha Dave (archaeologist and TV broadcaster) and Bettany Hughes (author and TV broadcaster).
Members of the LC Family whose real selves work at the British Museum.
Front: Lego Dr. Hartwig Fischer, Director and Prof. Dame Mary Beard, Board of Trustees. Middle from left: Lego Dr. Irving Finkel and Lego Pippa Pearce. Back: Lego Dr. Peter Higgs, Lego Dr. James Fraser, Lego Dr. Duygu Camurcuoglu, Lego Dr. Sam Moorhead and Lego Dr Thomas Kiely.
Dr. Donna Zuckerberg
Dr. Donna Zuckerberg is an American classicist and the author of Not All Dead White Men (2018, Harvard University Press), an examination of sexist and racist appropriation of classics driven by the internet and social media.
Zuckerberg was the founder and editor-in-chief of the online journal Eidolon, which published articles about classics approached in a contemporary way.
Dr. Donna Zuckerberg was inducted into the LC Family in 2019 and in 2021 she becomes the Lego Classicist of the Year for her persistent commitment to making the study of the classics relevant, vibrant, inclusive and important in understanding the modern world.
Prof. Massimo Osanna
Prof. Massimo Osanna is Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Napoli and Director General of Museums at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, Italy.
He was inducted into the LC Family by request of the University of Sydney Museums while he was the Director General of the Pompeii sites and his minifigure self was presented to him in person at Pompeii by University of Sydney academics Dr. Estelle Lazer and A/Prof. Kathryn Welch.
Prof. Massimo Osanna was inducted into the LC Family in 2017.
Prof. Dame Mary Beard
Prof. Beard is a Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Newnham College, author, TV broadcaster and a Trustee of the British Museum.
She is a well-known advocate of the relevance of classics and she makes classics more accessible to a wider audience through her documentaries like Meet the Romans with Mary Beard and her Times Literary Supplement blog, A Don’s Life.
She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to the study of classical civilisations.
Prof. Mary Beard was inducted into the LC Family in 2017.
Prof. John Bennet
Prof. John Bennet is the Director of the British School at Athens and an archaeologist and classicist.
He specialises in the archaeology of complex societies of the Bronze Age Aegean (Minoan and Mycenaean cultures) and their early writing and administrative systems (Linear B). Prof. Bennet is also jointly responsible with “The Lego Classicist” for the LC Family motto, “To Do History is to Play”.
Prof. John Bennet was inducted into the LC Family 2017 and in 2020, Prof. Bennet was awarded the Lego Classicists of the Year Award for his inclusive approach to the ancient world and his support of the LC Family.
Dr. Duygu Camurcuoglou
Dr. Duygu Camurcuoglu is a Conservator who works in the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research at the British Museum and has worked on several archaeological excavations in Turkey and the UK as an archaeologist and a conservator.
Recently, she worked on preparing rare antiquities for the British Museum block-buster exhibition Troy.
Dr. Duygu Camurcuoglu was inducted into the LC Family in 2018. She is also the Europe Ambassador for the LC Family because of her enthusiasm for serious play within the museum work environment.
Prof. Michael Scott
Prof. Michael Scott is an author, TV broadcaster and Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Warwick, UK. He is also President of the Lytham St Annes Classical Association, the UK’s largest branch of the Classical Association.
Prof. Scott works to bring the ancient world to a wider audience and is known for his public engagement and outreach work.
His broadcasting work includes the BBC documentaries Ancient Greece: The Greatest Show on Earth about the ancient origins of theatre and film, Who Were the Greeks? and Delphi: Bellybutton of the Ancient World.
Prof. Michael Scott was inducted into the LC Family in 2019.
Alessandra Randazzo is a journalist and ancient historian who specializes in the communication of archaeology, the classical world and social media, particularly focusing on the archaeological site of Pompeii.
Currently, Randazzo is the project manager for the online journal ClassiCult.
She recently interviewed British actor and author Stephen Fry on the occasion of his becoming the 100th member of the LC Family and the publication of his most recent book, Troy.
Alessandra Randazzo was inducted into the LC Family in 2020.
Constantinos Vasiliadis is Senior Conservator of Antiquities at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, which holds many of the most important antiquities in the world.
In 2014, Vasiliadis led the team that restored the famous Caryatids, stone columns in the shape of young women, from the Erechtheion temple on the Acropolis.
Constantinos Vasiliadis was inducted into the LC Family in 2019. In 2019 he was appointed Lego Classicist Ambassador for the Ancient Greek World for his deep understanding of the ancient artefacts of the Acropolis that he works with physically.
Dr. Stéphanie-Anne Ruatta
Dr. Stéphanie-Anne Ruatta is a classicist with a PhD in classical languages and she has been the resident Historian at Ubisoft Quebec since 2016 where her expertise has informed the classics-themed video games Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (2018) and Immortals Fenyx Rising (2020).
Dr. Stephanie Ruatta was inducted into the LC Family in 2019. Dr. Ruatta was awarded the Lego Classicist of the Year Award in 2019 for her exceptional ability to bring historical and cultural accuracy and understanding to contemporary culture through the technology of video gaming.
Dr. Giacomo Pardini
Dr. Giacomo Pardini is an ancient coin specialist who is Research Fellow in Ancient Numismatics in the Department of Cultural Heritage Science at the University of Salerno, Italy (Università degli Studi di Salerno).
He is particularly interested in finding out about how coins found at archaeological excavations help us understand how ancient civilizations worked and lived, and how they traded and circulated money.
Dr. Giacomo Pardini was inducted into the LC Family in 2020.
Rhianna Patrick is an Australian Torres Strait Islander radio and TV broadcaster.
She was inducted into the Lego Classicists Family for her work presenting Can You Dig It, an ABC Radio program also featuring Sydney University archaeologist Dr. Craig Barker, focused on interesting and unusual stories about archaeology for a general audience.
In 2020 Rhianna Patrick interviewed the Lego Classicist on ABC Radio about the LC Family and my artistic process.
Rhianna Patrick was inducted into the LC Family in 2019.
Dr. Irving Finkel
Dr. Irving Finkel specialises in ancient Assyria and is Assistant Keeper of Ancient Mesopotamian script, languages and cultures in the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum.
He is also a specialist in the history of board games and he worked out the rules of the ancient board game, the Royal Game of Ur by translating an ancient clay inscription in the British Museum.
In 2014, a documentary, Secrets of Noah's Ark, was made about building and launching a real-life ark, based on his work deciphering an ancient cuneiform tablet that tells the story of a flood and gives the dimensions of an ark-like boat.
Dr. Irving Finkel was inducted into the LC Family in 2018.
Prof. Zahra Newby
Prof. Zahra Newby is Head of the Classics and Ancient History Department at the University of Warwick, UK, where they are very committed to their outreach programme that brings the ancient world to a wide audience.
In scholarship, she is especially known for her work on the influence of Greece on aspects of Roman culture including athletics and painting.
Prof. Newby was inducted into the LC Family in 2019.
Dr. Timothy Potts
Dr. Timothy Potts is the Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, USA. He is an archaeologist and art historian who trained at the University of Sydney and the University of Oxford.
The J. Paul Getty Museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of antiquities and has an extensive conservation program.
Dr. Timothy Potts was inducted into the LC Family in 2018.
Dr. Cora Beth Knowles
Dr. Cora Beth Knowles is a classics Associate Lecturer at The Open University, UK.
She has a strong personal commitment to making the classics accessible to everyone. She is the author of the Classics Support website, which provides information about the classics, especially Rome, and is creating a hub for students and researchers to connect and share information.
Dr. Cora Beth Knowles was inducted into the LC Family in 2019.
WHAT IS A CLASSICIST?
A classicist is someone who studies the ancient world. The discipline of classics has traditionally involved the study of ancient Greece and Rome (literature, language and history), but more recently it tends to be broadened to include all ancient world studies. The LC Family uses the term “classicists” broadly, and LC Family members include people who specialise in ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, Scandinavia and other ancient cultures. LC Family members include archaeologists, historians, language, art and culture specialists, museum curators and directors, conservators and archivists and anyone involved in helping us understand and enjoy the ancient world.
"The Lego Classicist" believes that knowing about classics and the ancient world can help us make sense of the present and plan the future and we can all draw inspiration, wisdom, humour and strength from stories about the ancient world.
“Lego Classics” is a term coined by independent curator and scholar Lynette Jensen in 2019 in her plenary address Lego Classics: Serious or Superficial?, delivered at the University of New England, Australia, to describe the serious use of Lego to conceptually understand and explore the ancient world.
LIAM D. JENSEN
AKA "The Lego Classicist"
The Lego Classicists Family is the brain-child of Liam D. Jensen, known as “The Lego Classicist", who has been creating members of the LC Family and telling their stories since 2016.
Liam D. Jensen is an historical archivist who specialises in historical paper collections. He has a particular interest in film and the portrayal of historical themes in popular culture. Jensen is also a 4th generation artist, whose primary media are filmmaking and graphic art. As LDJ Independent Historical Archivist he has archived and prepared collections of original historical engravings, photographs and sketches now in the collections of institutions including the University of Oxford, the University of Sydney, the British School at Athens and the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. He currently archives the Lynette Jensen Collection and prepares it for donation.
With a background in filmmaking, for many years Jensen was historical archivist and curator of the AHL Historical Archive which houses the collections of the major Australian cinema chain, Greater Union (now Events Cinemas), that played a direct role in the establishment of feature film, where he built and recorded the collection of mainly film-related material and worked on the publication of the company’s centennial history book, AHL: 100 Years of Entertainment. There he developed his specialist interest in Australian Daybill film posters. As a filmmaker, he has made a number of short films that have been screened at the Mercury Cinema Adelaide, Kino Sydney and the Adelaide International Film Festival as well as training and other corporate videos for organisations including the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney and the South Australian Department for Education. He currently voluntarily records and produces academic talks for selected academics for the historical record. Using his filmmaking training he is developing a new method of editing that combines academic structure into each recorded talk turning them into a form he describes as “Academic Videos”.
Liam D. Jensen is compiling the developing LDJ Archive, which consists of the Australian Daybill Film Poster collection of around a thousand film posters, a collection of antique engravings related to Captain James Cook, and the recently begun Classics In Comics archive of physical comic books which portray ancient world themes. These collections are being built for eventual donation to international educational institutions for research and scholarship. To date, he has curated and donated collections of Daybill film posters to institutions including the British School at Rome, AC ARTs Adelaide and Macquarie University, Sydney, and is currently compiling a major collection for the Australian National Motor Museum. His Ben-Hur to Brian curated exhibition of Australian Daybill film posters was the last permanent exhibition of the recently closed Museum of Ancient Cultures, at Macquarie University, Sydney.
Liam D. Jensen is also the creator of the LC Family, the pop-art initiative that brings ancient world scholars, students and enthusiasts together with the general public through the power of LEGO and social media and the internet. In this capacity he has collaborated with the J. Paul Getty Museum on a social media project and articles about his work have appeared in BBC News Online, Antike Welt, the Society of Antiquaries SALON, the Society for Classical Studies (USA) and the Italian online journal ClassiCult. In 2019 his work was featured on BBC TV’s Front Row Late with Mary Beard. In 2017, Jensen instituted the tongue-in-cheek International Lego Classicism Day on 20th February every year, a day when international institutions and individuals celebrate the ancient world in LEGO®. So far, International Lego Classicism Day has been hosted by the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, the University of New England, the University of Adelaide and the British School at Athens.
Jensen is an advocate for social justice and his work on the LC Family is a deliberate attempt to make classics and academia generally accessible to everyone, no matter what their background, culture or gender, through the visual accessibility and almost universal appeal of LEGO® and the direct impact of pop-art. The LC Family aims for gender and class equality and cultural and ethnic inclusion, as it widens the definition of classics, history and how stories are told and by whom. As someone who is dyslexic and has had a severe debilitating chronic condition all his adult life (ulcerative colitis), Jensen has a real and direct experience of disability, struggle and exclusion from mainstream systems. This experience however, and the empathy it provides, inspires him to increasingly draw on age-old lessons from ancient history and their modern relevance, and to play with and celebrate life, community and connection.
The growing LC Family now includes over 100 portraits, and in December 2020, British author, actor and broadcaster, Stephen Fry became the 100th member, for his work on a series of books about ancient Greek mythology, most recently Troy, which make classics direct, accessible and engaging for everyone, especially because Fry is committed to producing audio versions of his books.
Delivering a collection to the British School at Rome, 2016. From left to right: Valerie Scott (BSR Librarian), Prof. Christopher Smith (BSR Director), Liam D. Jensen, Dr. Alessandra Giovenco (BSR Archivist). Photo by the British School at Rome.
Dr. Irving Finkel, Curator, British Museum (left) with Liam D. Jensen (right) at the University of Sydney, 2019. Photo by Dr. James Fraser, Senior Curator, Nicholson Museum, Sydney.