Cloud Gate, better known as “The Bean”, has been an iconic Chicago landmark since it was first unveiled in 2006. And after 17 years in the heart of Millennium Park, it’s time for The Bean’s home to get some needed upgrades.
Beginning August 2023, the plaza where The Bean is located will be undergoing renovations in order to enhance the visitor experience and improve the area’s accessibility.
During this time, public access and views of the sculpture will be limited; construction is expected to last through spring 2024. And while we’ll all miss being up close to The Bean during this temporary hiatus, there’s still so much to explore in and around Millennium Park and Chicago’s Loop.
In this article
Things to do in Millennium Park
Chicago’s lakefront Millennium Park is one of the city’s most popular and beloved public spaces. The 24-acre park, located in the heart of the downtown Loop, is home to an array of public artworks, green spaces, gardens, dining, events, and more. Here’s what to check out while you’re there.
In the summer, Crown Fountain is the place to be. The twin sculptures display faces of real Chicagoans on soaring video displays, and double as a family-friendly splash zone in the warmer months.
The Pritzker Pavilion is a bucket-list venue that hosts some of the city’s most-attended events. The show-stopping steel bandshell, designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry, is a sight to behold no matter the occasion. Grab a seat on the Great Lawn and enjoy free events like the Millennium Park Film Series, Millennium Park Music Series, and the Chicago Jazz Festival.
For a moment of zen, stop by the Lurie Garden. This botanical masterpiece displays a variety of native plants and flowers, all the more stunning with the city skyline as the backdrop.
Also in Millennium Park, the Boeing Galleries display rotating exhibits from modern and contemporary artists. Currently on display, don’t miss the candy-colored hand-blown glass works by Christine Tarkowski or the striking pavilion-like structure by Edra Soto.
Nearby, Maggie Daley Park is just a short walk over the winding BP Bridge. The whimsical playscape is perfect to let the kids run, jump, climb, and play.
Explore more in our guide to Millennium Park.
Public art around the Loop
Chicago’s Loop neighborhood may be the city’s bustling urban center, but it’s also packed with ground-breaking artwork, famous sculptures, and soaring murals. Here are just a few must-see pieces around the Loop.
Known as The Picasso, this soaring sculpture was gifted to the city by iconic artist Pablo Picasso. One of the city’s most well-known works, it’s located in Daley Plaza where it presides over year-round events.
The Four Seasons by Marc Chagall is a colorful mural composed of thousands of individual tiles that was originally assembled by the artist in France. The work displays six scenes of Chicago, including the city’s skyline.
You might recognize Flamingo by Alexander Calder from the classic Chicago movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The 53-foot tall, bright red sculpture is impossible to miss from its spot in Federal Plaza.
Located just across the street from Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center is home to various free public exhibits and events (like the Chicago Architecture Biennial), plus stunning architectural details like the world’s largest Tiffany glass dome.
The Wabash Arts Corridor in the nearby South Loop is a living urban canvas, home to dozens of large-scale murals that transform the area’s streets and alleys into a colorful outdoor museum.
Located on the Chicago River, Art on theMART is the world’s largest digital art platform. The mesmerizing display lights up the riverfront facade of theMART every evening throughout the season.
Check out our full guide to public art in and around Chicago’s Loop for more. Or if you want to explore outside the Loop, you can use this guide to street art and murals in Chicago’s neighborhoods.
If you’re looking for even more art, the Art Institute of Chicago is located on the Millennium Park campus and is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country.
The Bean construction FAQs
When will construction around The Bean begin?
Construction to The Bean’s plaza is set to begin around Aug. 15, 2023.
What is the construction around The Bean?
The construction is part of necessary maintenance by the city of Chicago to enhance the visitor experience and increase accessibility to the area around The Bean. This includes replacing pavers and making other repairs and upgrades to the plaza area.
Don’t worry, The Bean won’t be going anywhere and will remain unchanged when construction is complete.
When will the construction around The Bean be completed?
Construction around The Bean is currently scheduled to be completed in spring 2024.
Can you still see The Bean during construction?
During construction, there will be no public access to the area surrounding The Bean. Views of The Bean will be limited or partially obstructed throughout the construction period.
How can I see The Bean during construction?
You might be able to catch a glimpse of The Bean during construction from Cindy’s, just across the street from Millennium Park. The rooftop bar inside the Chicago Athletic Association features an open-air terrace with stunning views of Millennium Park from above.