Chicago is home to some of the most beautiful and iconic pieces of public art in the world. Most of you have probably heard of Cloud Gate (a.k.a. “The Bean”) or seen The Picasso in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Fugitive, but what about all the other great public works of art around the Windy City? Hop on the green downtown trolley tour and keep a lookout for these famous works of art.
Michigan Avenue Bridge – DuSable Bridge
Look carefully or you’ll miss these ornate stone carvings on the old Michigan Avenue bridge. The four Art Deco bridge houses portray famous scenes from Chicago’s past.
Chicago Merchant Hall of Fame – 222 Merchandise Mart Plz
As a way to pay tribute to Chicago’s manufacturing and industrial roots, these bronze busts of the city’s famous merchants were installed outside Merchandise Mart. Those depicted include Marshall Field and Aaron Montgomery Ward.
Goddesses of Industry and Agriculture – 141 W Jackson Blvd
You may notice two sculptures when passing by, but did you know there is a third? Sitting atop the Art Deco Chicago Board of Trade building is the three-story sculpture of Ceres, goddess of grain. Dating back to 1885, these Goddesses of Industry and Agriculture represent Chicago’s past as an economic heavyweight.
Flamingo – 50 West Adams Street
The Picasso isn’t the only Chicago work to grab some coveted screen time. Located at the Federal Center, the Alexander Calder-designed Flamingo has appeared in several films, most notably in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Art Institute of Chicago Lions – 111 South Michigan Avenue
Designed by sculptor Edward Kemeys, this pair of bronze-cast lions are two of Chicago’s oldest pieces of art. Since 1893, they’ve stood guard on the front steps of the Art Institute of Chicago. Don’t be surprised if you find them in Blackhawks or Cubs attire.
Bowman and Spearman – 101 East Congress Parkway
Sculpted by Ivan Mestrovic and installed in 1928, this pair of bronze-cast Native American warrior statues stand watch over the entrance to Congress Plaza. Mestrovic intended his monumental figures to commemorate the Native Americans and symbolically represent the struggle to settle this country.
Agora – S Michigan Ave
Passing along the south end of Grant Park, you may notice an impressive number of 9-foot metal torsos wandering the grounds. Installed in 2006, these 106 sculptures make up Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz’s, Agora.
The Buckingham Fountain – 301 South Columbus Drive
Designed by Edward Bennett and donated by Kate S. Buckingham herself, Buckingham Fountain serves as one of Chicago’s most iconic works of public art. Since its dedication in 1927, it remains a symbol of our forever free and open lakefront.