The Modular Buildings Collection has only once before journeyed beyond the confines of a 32×32 baseplate, in 2017’s 10255 Assembly Square. That set arrived across 48 studs, celebrating the 10th anniversary of what was then a Creator Expert subtheme. Normal service has since resumed: every subsequent LEGO modular building has reverted to 32 studs wide, suggesting the bigger template was something special; something sacred.
10326 Natural History Museum is here to remind us that there are no rules – designer Chris McVeigh says pushing to 48 studs wide for a museum was always on the cards – while smashing more than one boundary for one of the LEGO Group’s most idolised subthemes. It’s got a piece count to beat, and a size that can compete, but can it shoulder expectations to take its place on your street?
— LEGO Icons 10326 Natural History Museum set details —
Price: £259.99 / $299.99 / €299.99 Pieces: 4,014 Minifigures: 7
LEGO: Order now
— Where to buy LEGO Icons 10326 Natural History Museum —
10326 Natural History Museum is available to pre-order at LEGO.com, and will start shipping from December 1. It will be sold exclusively through LEGO Stores and at LEGO.com at release, but may pop up through a third-party retailer further down the line.
— LEGO Icons 10326 Natural History Museum build —
Symmetry is a rare thing for modular buildings nowadays, and so too is devoting an entire set to a single structure. That makes 10326 Natural History Museum feel like a throwback to classic modular buildings before you’ve even snipped open the box, and it’s a great starting point for anyone who wishes 10297 Boutique Hotel didn’t have to make way for an art gallery. Here is a set with a laser focus on what it wants to be: a centrepiece of your LEGO city.
It tries to achieve that through grand architecture, like those towering columns that frame the entranceway – purposefully designed differently to the pillars fronting 10224 Town Hall – and the dome on its roof, tied together with classical touches like the wrought-iron fence surrounding the ground floor, and the nanofigure and minifigure statues up top and down below respectively.
These are hallmarks that all hang together well, conjuring up images of museums you’ve probably visited in real life without specifically recreating a single one. We’re not going to get another modular museum any time soon (if ever), so 10326 Natural History Museum skewers all the essentials in one go, boiling everything down into the prototypical example of a museum inside and out.
You’ve got the banners advertising current exhibits, adding a splash of colour to an otherwise muted façade (olive green is already proving divisive, and you probably won’t change your mind on it in person); the sweeping, airy interiors with open landings to peer down below (and allow the brachiosaurus’s skeleton to crane up); the skylights that bathe those open spaces with light; the gift shop ready to rid unsuspecting guests of their cash before they’ve even had chance to glance at a fossil; and a variety of different exhibits tracing nearly the entirety of minifigure history.
Those exhibits – which range from mini nods to classic LEGO themes like Castle and Space to a smartly-designed orrery of our solar system – are constructed separately and then simply slotted into place, which Chris McVeigh says is partly to make them feel like fun ‘bite-sized’ builds, but also so you can focus on the specific item you’re building before inserting it into the museum. Yet this design choice also has an additional benefit: each of the exhibits and displays is super-easy to swap out for any others you might want to add, too. (None of them are load-bearing.) Fancy adding a third floor to your model? Follow the instructions for the second floor, then fill it with whatever you like.
You might well want to add that third floor, too – expanding 10326 Natural History Museum the way countless fans have combined multiple copies of pretty much every other modular building – to overcome the contradiction that underlines this model. It’s one that prevents the museum from really achieving all it sets out to do, and is why it’s just not quite the home run it seems to be on paper.
Look: here is a building that, in reality, would tower above and outshine nearly every other structure in the vicinity. It would likely stand alone in a courtyard or square, unperturbed by adjacent dwellings or businesses. And the shadow it casts would make it a real presence in pretty much any city worth its salt. Per the back of the box, 10326 Natural History Museum is designed to sit squashed between a nightclub and a hotel, both of which are comparable in size to (or even a little bigger than) this building.
That skewed scale means that for all this set gets right, it was really fighting a losing battle from day one. Going wider was the right choice, pushing up to the buffer set by 10255 Assembly Square in size and budget, but that apparent glass ceiling has prevented 10326 Natural History Museum from genuinely bursting beyond its predecessors as the focal point of your LEGO city. For best results, you might want to experiment with placing this one on its own, rather than hooking it to the rest of your collection.
All that said, smaller museums are a thing. And, as mentioned, you can always combine multiple copies to go taller (or even wider) – as was the entire point behind 10182 Café Corner back in the day. Maybe this is reminiscent of classic modular buildings in more ways than one…
— LEGO Icons 10326 Natural History Museum characters —
In the grand scheme of things, nobody is picking up a LEGO modular building for its minifigures – but that doesn’t mean they should take a backseat. The best modular buildings instead bring their characters to the fore by seamlessly integrating them into the setting and stories they present, and that’s very much true of 10326 Natural History Museum.
Between its staff members, civilians and a curator resurrected from a fan-favourite ‘90s theme – remember Dr. Kilroy from Adventurers? He’s back, in curator form – the mix of minifigures here feels pitched just right. You’ve got enough characters to populate the set without overwhelming it, and every one of them has their place.
Bonus points for the woman’s prosthetic leg and the window washer’s brown flat cap, too. We’ll never say no to interesting minifigure elements.
— LEGO Icons 10326 Natural History Museum price —
10326 Natural History Museum matches the price tag of the outgoing 10255 Assembly Square (which may have already retired as you read this), becoming a direct replacement for that modular building in more ways than one. The 2017 set originally launched at £179.99 / $199.99 / €199.99, but price hikes driven by inflation (at least according to the LEGO Group) brought it up to £259.99 / $299.99 / €299.99, which is where the museum sits.
Relative to other modular buildings currently on shelves – 10312 Jazz Club, 10297 Boutique Hotel – you’re effectively getting 50% more real estate here without a 50% price increase. The piece count may be only 33% higher than either of those sets, but that intangible feeling of value is still there when popping 10326 Natural History Museum next to its contemporaries. It’s a high price, but not necessarily an unfair one.
— LEGO Icons 10326 Natural History Museum pictures —
— LEGO Icons 10326 Natural History Museum pros and cons —
There are subjective reasons to overlook 10326 Natural History Museum – the scale, the colour – but within the constraints of the Modular Buildings Collection, this is essentially everything you could hope for from a museum. It tosses out the rulebook to balloon to 48 studs wide, ticks off every box you could imagine (here’s a dino skeleton, there’s a gift shop), and essentially feels like the essence of the word ‘museum’ made tangible. For a theme devoted to singular – yet holistic – representations of real-world buildings, it’s tough to ask for more.
One for the ages, then.
|10326 Natural History Museum pros||10326 Natural History Museum cons|
|Ambitious and satisfying design||Olive green won’t be for everyone|
|Pours everything into a single, simple concept, with great results||Big building means a big price…|
|Everything you could want from a LEGO modular museum||…but it could, and maybe should, have been bigger|
This set was provided for review by the LEGO Group.
— Alternatives to LEGO Icons 10326 Natural History Museum —
With three different LEGO modular buildings leaving shelves at the end of 2023 – 10255 Assembly Square, 10270 Bookshop and 10278 Police Station – alternatives to 10326 Natural History Museum within the subtheme are surprisingly slim. You might still be able to find one or all of those sets on shelves if you’re lucky (and if so, 10255 Assembly Square is the one to shoot for), but otherwise 10297 Boutique Hotel and 10312 Jazz Club both offer similar building experiences across different subject matter.
Other thematic alternatives to a history museum include 21333 Vincent van Gogh – The Starry Night (a historic painting), 21110 Research Institute (dino skeleton!) and 75900 Mummy Museum Mystery (if you’re aching for an ancient Egyptian exhibit).
— LEGO Icons 10326 Natural History Museum FAQs —
How long does it take to build LEGO Icons 10326 Natural History Museum?
Expect to spend somewhere in the region of eight hours building 10326 Natural History Museum, if you’re putting it together at a brisk pace. As always, it’s best to take your time and really enjoy the build – especially with modular buildings.
How many pieces are in LEGO Icons 10326 Natural History Museum?
How big is LEGO Icons 10326 Natural History Museum?
- I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then.
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