Lonely Planet Writer

These adorable giant trolls have come to Chicago for a good cause

If you travel west along I-88 through northern Illinois, you may be startled to catch sight of six giant wooden trolls measuring 15 to 30 feet tall who have made their home on the grounds of The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Chicago.

Joe the Guardian, his hand held to his brow, stands overlooking the interstate. Image: The Morton Arboretum

The awe-inspiring wooden creatures of the new Troll Hunt exhibition are designed to encourage visitors to the outdoor tree museum and tree research centre to consider their personal responsibility as stewards of our environment. The trolls are constructed from hundreds of pieces of reclaimed wood, including battered boards, fallen trees and branches, and the remains of pallets and packing crates.

Furry Ema holds a net to trap people. Image: The Morton Arboretum

Built by Danish artist, Thomas Dambo, to be both mischievous and thought-provoking, the trolls of Troll Hunt act as guardians of the surrounding forest, and interactive elements of the exhibition serve to highlight their curiosity about the people they encounter. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the trolls, collecting clues to find the hideout, the trolls’ nighttime lair.

Children climb on Sneaky Socks Alexa. Image: The Morton Arboretum

Sneaky Socks Alexa kneels near a “trap,” a simple wooden crate propped open with a log, waiting to catch a human for study. Furry Ema sits next to a tree, dangling a net that visitors can climb into to be “captured.” Little Artur, reclines on his back and measures a striking 60 feet long, and he might “eat” you if he catches you.

A girl climbs in the mouth of Little Artur, a troll made of reclaimed wood in Troll Hunt. Image: The Morton Arboretum

Joe the Guardian, his hand held to his brow, stands overlooking the interstate, Rocky Bardur is smashing a car with rocks, and Niels Bragger peers out from between trees.

Niels Bragger peers out from between trees. Image: The Morton Arboretum

“Walking through the woods and coming upon an immense troll among the trees is a one-of-a-kind experience,” says Sue Wagner, vice president of education and information at The Morton Arboretum.”Our visitors have been enamoured by this unique exhibition, which conveys the message that our natural spaces are precious and in need of our collective care and protection.”

Little Artur is 60 feet long. Image: The Morton Arboretum

These creatures are part of an international series, which started with the Six Forgotten Giants, mammoth wooden creatures hidden throughout the artist’s home city  of Copenhagen. They are expected to remain at the Arboretum at least through to the end of 2018.

Rocky Bardur holds a rock above him and has smashed a car. Image: The Morton Arboretum

For more information about Troll Hunt at The Morton Arboretum, visit here.