BANGOR — The Maine Discovery Museum in downtown Bangor has a new visitor, “Larry the Lobster.” Larry isn’t any ordinary lobster; he is more than 6 feet long and made entirely of household plastic waste.
Larry is the brainchild of Genevieve Sychterz, a senior at Bangor High School. In 2020, she wanted to do something to highlight the problem of plastic in the ocean. She decided to build a lobster out of all of the plastic that her family used in a six-month time period.
“It just made sense,” Genevieve said, “Warming oceans are really beginning to affect the lobster industry. I wanted to do something with all this plastic that highlighted the waste while using the lobster as the image of problems that the waste can cause.”
For months, Genevieve collected all of the plastic that her family of five produced. She cleaned, sorted, and then stored every bag, bottle, box, and packaging in the family’s basement. As she collected it, she researched online and designed a blueprint for the giant lobster.
The project ran into some difficulties, though. First was the sheer amount of plastic that one family produced. After six months, the Sychterz basement was filled with plastic, 60 pounds worth. Genevieve realized she would never be able to incorporate it all into her project.
Next, limiting herself to six months of plastic garbage proved difficult. The initial design was twice the size of the current lobster, but it was too heavy and incredibly difficult to maneuver. Also, Genevieve couldn’t finish it before the garage was needed for the winter. “My parents made me move the giant lobster outside, and when I brought it back into my garage late this spring, there were just too many problems. So I decided to redesign Larry and make him smaller.”
Unlike a real lobster, Larry has an internal frame made of PVC and plastic bottles, and then covered with a “skin” of plastic bags. He sits on a pedestal of clear plastic bags holding the rest of the collected plastic.
Genevieve chose the Maine Discovery Museum as the perfect place to share her art work because she has volunteered there the past few years and they have been recently highlighting the problems of climate change. She reached out to Autumn Allen, director of operations, who eagerly jumped at the chance to work with Genevieve and use her project.
The museum plans use “Larry” and his excess plastic as buildable art for children to make their own Larry-inspired recycled art sessions. The display takes a difficult and mostly abstract problem and makes it both visible and accessible to children. Larry will be available in the Museum for people to see and we will host recycled art sessions inspired by Larry.
To learn more about the Children’s Museum, please visit their website at https://www.mainediscoverymuseum.org/ or to learn more about the new Warming Sea exhibit at the Children’s museum visit https://www.thewarmingsea.me/.