You have probably seen a crazy haired wooden beast looking out at you and your fellow travelers when driving down I-88, but don’t be alarmed. He is just one of the trolls that have invaded the Morton Arboretum thanks to the talented Danish artist Thomas Dambo.
Wondering what the wooden installation buzz is all about? Dambo’s giant trolls tell the “Great Story about the Little People and the Giant Trolls,” emphasizing the struggle that exists between mankind and nature. Each troll tells a unique story based on his location and post within the massive Morton Arboretum. Here are three tips that your family NEEDS to know before starting your troll hunt. And trust me on this one—there are sore feet at stake!
My family and I were given free admission to the Morton Arboretum. All opinions are my own.
DRIVE THE TROLL HUNT
Yes, that’s right, the best way to track down these massive beasts is by slowly driving the long, winding main route that travels throughout the Morton Arboretum. There is one troll that is easily accessible on foot because it is in the parking lot and another that is only about a seven minute walk from the Children’s Garden (check out my Children’s Garden tips here), but the other trolls are FAR. Don’t be like me and think that you can see the trolls on foot because your kids have boundless energy. Because your kids will get tired, start whining, and demand to be carried.
Even if you do drive the troll hunt, you will still need to hike up to most of the wooden installations. Each troll is located between two feet and ¾ of a mile away from the nearest parking lot. Use the map to guide you so you don’t make the same mistake I did and park in two different lots to see the same exact troll. Ooops!
PACK THE ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR TROLL HUNT
Nowadays no one goes anywhere without their phone so they can document their day (please tell me I’m not the only guilty one), but that’s not the only thing that will keep your kids happy and focused during your troll hunt. First off, make sure everyone has comfortable gym shoes. Sandals simply aren’t going to cut it because the winding paths are littered with woodchips, tree roots, and tons of other natural items that make it a hike instead of just a leisurely stroll. Also, be sure to pack both sunscreen AND bug spray (check out my favorite eco-friendly picks) since most of the wooden installations are set up—you guessed it—in the woods! Lastly, you can’t go wrong with packing some type of sweet to keep your kid motivated to keep on trekking to find the trolls. My boys were easily swayed by some ice cold juice boxes and a pack of Starburst. Bribery, thy name is Amanda.
USE THE TROLL HUNT FOR IMPORTANT CONVERSATIONS
As with most art, the trolls aren’t just there to take cool Instagram photos. Thomas Dambo created his wooden installation to promote his anti-waste messaging. If you look closely at the trolls, they are constructed with discarded items. If this isn’t a great talking point for families who want to live a more “green” lifestyle, I don’t know what is.
In addition to discussing what the trolls are made of, work with your kids to try to figure out the story behind the troll. Joe, the guardian of I-88 for example, looks like he is protecting the quiet forest of the Morton Arboretum from the loud, busy machines traveling down the expressway. Why would a troll have a rock in his hand, trying to crush cars in the parking lot? Why is yet another troll setting up a trap? There are so many fun conversations that can take place thanks to not only Dambo’s imagination, but your children’s as well.
When my boys and I went on the troll hunt at the Morton Arboretum, we ran into a friend and a handful of our cousins…but only found five trolls. Think you can find more? Prove it!
Simply comment on this post with your favorite thing about the Morton Arboretum (mine is Adventure Woods!) in order to win a pair of tickets to the Troll Hunt. The contest ends this Sunday, August 5that 8 p.m. CST and winners will be contacted via email.