Gentle Giants

June 2018 View more

The latest Morton Arboretum exhibit is sure to inspire young and old alike. “Troll Hunt” features six whimsical wooden trolls made entirely of reclaimed wood. After its completion on June 22, visitors can explore the Arboretum’s 1,700 acres to find these colossal guardians of the forest.

“People around the world have admired Thomas Dambo’s large-scale recycled wood creations in his native Denmark and on social media, and we are thrilled to host his first-ever large-scale artist-in-residence exhibition in the United States,” says Sue Wagner, vice president of education and information at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

“His trolls and the story behind them—that they are protectors of our forests—will amaze and intrigue visitors of all ages, while drawing attention to how humans can better care for trees and the environment in which we live.”

Prior to the official launch, visitors can watch Danish artist Thomas Dambo and his team build the 15- to 20-foot-tall trolls during weekdays on the grounds. Each sculpture is created using hundreds of pieces of reclaimed wood, including battered boards, fallen trees and branches, as well as the remains of pallets and packing crates.

Built to be both mischievous and thought provoking, the trolls invite visitors to interact with them, while encouraging personal responsibility as stewards of our environment. While visitors seek out the creatures, the trolls in turn are trying to make sense of the human world around them.

For example, one troll kneels near a “trap,” a wooden crate propped open with a stick as the creature waits to catch a human. Another sits next to a tree, holding a long rod that dangles a net that visitors can climb into to be “captured.” Visitors explore how the creatures live by seeking out their habitats tucked away in a wooded glen. Some trolls will be situated in plain sight, while others will be hidden off paths among the trees.

Troll Hunt Events
Although the trolls are expected to remain at the Arboretum indefinitely, there will be two one-time events held this summer. Cost for each event is $16/member, $20/non-member. Register at

An Evening with the Artist | Thursday, June 14, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Ginkgo Cafe
Artist Thomas Dambo will talk about his career and the Troll Hunt concept as he encourages people to think of trash as a fun resource.

Adult Coloring | Thursday, July 12, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Sycamore Room
An art instructor will begin the evening with tips to elevate your coloring skills. Try out your new skills on troll-themed coloring sheets as you enjoy drinks from the cash bar.