- Associated Press - Monday, October 24, 2016

WENHAM, Mass. (AP) - It was the most devastating battle of the Second Wizarding War, claiming the lives of dozens at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, parts of which were left in ruins.

And it only took two years, with thousands upon thousands of Legos, to re-create.

The Battle of Hogwarts joins several other Lego-built creations on display now at the Wenham Museum, as part of the historical venue’s exhibit titled “Legos at Large!”

The centerpiece of the exhibit is a monolithic creation by Salem father-and-son builders Doug and 10-year-old Colin Bowker, The creation, which depicts the setting of the climatic ending to the Harry Potter series, took somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 Legos to fashion.

It stands 3 feet tall and stretches 5 1/2 by 7 1/2 feet on its own Plexiglas-encased table.

“We started that, basically, at the end of the last show,” dad Doug Bowker said. “There were a number of sections that got built two, three times because we’d build it up to a certain size and later would run into problems.”

It’s no surprise that this isn’t the first time that the Bowkers have had a display at the museum.

Launched in 1922, the Wenham Museum has somewhat unintentionally become associated with children’s toys, starting with “a really large collection of dolls,” museum manager Jane Bowers said.

“It just happened accidentally,” Bowers said. “We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve almost lost control of the collection. We estimate that we have about 45,000 objects, and about half of those are dolls, toys and other artifacts of childhood.”

Several years ago, the museum started running exhibits dedicated to Legos - toy building blocks that are celebrated by all ages.

“Everybody has Legos. Everybody likes Legos,” Bowers said. “Everybody can do Legos.”

For the Lego exhibit two years ago, the Bowkers re-envisioned a setting used in the 2014 fantasy film “The Lego Movie.”

The duo won Best in Show. After the exhibit ended, they started hammering out their next idea for a build, Doug Bowker said.

For their current creation, the Great Hall and adjacent structures seen throughout the Harry Potter movies were painstakingly designed in Legos based off setting sketches in fan-focused books, which detail the background of the movies and their respective set designs.

But as time went on, even the settings the Bowlers rebuilt were continuously changing.

“We’d get new shapes we didn’t have before and thought, ‘This would really make that part so much cooler,’” Doug Bowker said. “So we’d deconstruct some of it and build it up again with more detail.”

The group would also track down specific Lego sets that often had nothing to do with Harry Potter, simply because they had a piece that would work well in their design - like a clock, according to Colin Bowker.

The daunting number of Legos used include small dot pieces to add detail to outdoor areas, torches and other inconsequential accessories to spruce the design up.

Colin’s friends were huge fans of the creation, often putting playtime on hold to simply stare at the project as it came together, he said.

The Lego sculpture was something everybody entering the Bowker home came to protect, too, ensuring no stray toys flying through the air would so much as knock a single brick off the besieged-by-design fortress.

The Bowkers’ creation remains on display through the duration of the exhibit, which runs through this Sunday, Oct. 23.

What happens to it after that is a mystery, Doug Bowker said.

Colin wants to keep the Great Hall intact. His dad thinks that’s feasible, but as future projects come up, the duo could end up repurposing parts of the structure anyway.

“We already have some things we’d like to do - some big ‘Star Wars’ ships, things well beyond any set size,” Doug Bowker said. “We’d probably take a section (of the Battle of Hogwarts) at a time apart.

“But when you get really motivated with a new project, that’s when you start thinking, ‘Did we really need that part? Let’s take that tower out,’” he said.

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Information from: Eagle Tribune (North Andover, Mass.), https://www.eagletribune.com

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