Millennium Park boasts one of the most impressive collections of public art in the world. Chicago's iconic sculpture "The Bean" takes the top spot, but there's more artful surprises to be found in Millennium Park — from a pair of water-spouting digital fountains to a Frank Gehry-designed showstopper. When you're strolling through this green space, make sure to have your camera ready.
Renowned British artist Anish Kapoor's first public, outdoor work installed in the United States is Cloud Gate (a.k.a. "The Bean").
Shaped like a seamless oval and made from highly polished stainless steel plates, the structure provides a distorted reflection of the city skyline and mirrors gawking visitors. The 12-foot-high arch at the structures base provides a "gate" for park lovers to walk and take pictures under.
Measuring 66 feet long and standing more than 30 feet high, Cloud Gate is one of the largest sculptures of its kind in the world.
JAY PRITZKER PAVILION
Frank Gehry's one-of-a-kind, Deconstructivism styled performance stage is
breathtaking. Standing 120 feet high with a flowing crown of stainless steel
ribbons, the theater delivers the ultimate outdoor concert experience. Complete
with a 4,000 fixed seats and room for an additional 7,000 on the lawn, it's a
popular attraction for entertainment-hungry Chicagoans and visitors.
The sound system is designed to mimic the acoustics of an indoor theater
with steel framework that extends from the stage through the lawn. The
state-of-the-art system distributes sound equally throughout the space.
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion hosts free shows and events including Concerts in
the Park and the Grant Park Music Festival.
Chicago is sometimes referred to as a "City in a Garden." It
alludes to Chicago's swampy marsh beginnings and ultimate transformation into a
world-class city. To ensure the city stays true to its roots (so to speak),
Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd, Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel designed Lurie Garden, a five acre, award-winning masterpiece
in botanical landscaping.
In spring, perennials and bulbs cultivate together like a city skyline of
blossoms and buds. In summer, visitors are engrossed with a dramatically lit,
15-foot-high "shoulder" hedge, which pays a vegetal homage to
Chicago's "City of Big Shoulders" nickname. The ornamental grasses of
winter capture snow and ice, forming elegant sculptures in nature. Did you know that more than 120,000 bulbs have been planted at the garden since 2006? The 250+ types of perennials and bulbs give the garden great diversity and it's a haven for wildlife — over 60 species of birds have been identified on the grounds.
CROWN FOUNTAIN AT MILLENNIUM PARK
Containing two, 50-foot towers that project facial images of Chicago
citizens, the Crown Fountain is one of the city's most recognizable displays of
public art. During summer days, visitors can cool off by wading in the
structure's reflecting pool. Or, if they're daring enough, by taking a stroll
under the fountains cascading waterfall.
Two paved outdoor spaces located on the mid-level terraces, a North Gallery and a South Gallery, make up the Boeing Galleries. Designed for public exhibitions and furnished with benches and seating for park visitors, the free, open-air galleries are home to modern and contemporary art installations that rotate throughout the year.
WRIGLEY SQUARE AND MILLENNIUM MONUMENT
This inviting, tree-lined space along Michigan Avenue is the perfect place
for visitors to relax. With its 40-foot columns and polished stone, Wrigley
Square and Millennium Monument is where the past and present meet in the heart
of Chicago's beautiful downtown. Etched in stone are the individuals,
corporations and foundations that helped contribute to the creation of the
Frank Gehry's stainless steel compliment to his Jay Pritzker Pavilion is the
BP Bridge. Designed to create a sound barrier between the performance theater
and the traffic noise at street level, it's also a beautiful and unique running
path for Chicago's seize-the-day locals and visitors.
MCCORMICK TRIBUNE ICE RINK AND PLAZA
The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink and Plaza is a
year-round attraction along Michigan Avenue. During the summer, it's a
picturesque al fresco dining space and home to the Park Grill restaurant. In winter, it's a charming
ice rink close to 17,000-square-feet in size and complete with a skate rental.
HARRIS THEATER FOR MUSIC AND DANCE
The theater's mission is to serve as a model of collaboration between the
philanthropic community and arts organizations. The space is home to some of
Chicago's most celebrated music and dance companies including the Chicago Opera Theater, Music of the Baroque, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
Linking Millennium Park to The Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing is The
Nichols Bridgeway. Extending 625-feet across Lurie Garden and Monroe Street,
the walkway offers breathtaking views of the city and a rather convenient short
cut to a world-class art museum.
The Nichols Bridgeway is designed by Renzo Piano, the same architect that designed
The Art Institute's Modern Wing. It opened in 2009.