Get to Know Your Neighborhood with a Tour of Chicago’s Public Art

Photo by Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0

Even if you’ve just relocated to Chicago, you probably already know that your new city is home to many world-class museums, including The Art Institute of Chicago. In fact, travel site TripAdvisor recently named it the No. 1 U.S. museum and No. 3 in the world.

And while a trip to the Art Institute is a must for newcomers (admission is free to Illinois residents every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.), did you know that you can also experience free public art by legendary artists like Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Alexander Calder across the city? It’s something that even long-time residents and natives may have overlooked.

The City of Chicago offers a complete guide to public art throughout the city, organized by neighborhood. A stroll through the Loop, for instance, boasts more than 50 pieces of public art. So, why not take the warm weather as the perfect excuse to acquaint yourself with your new neighborhood by checking out some of these downtown pieces, or wow out-of-town visitors with these works. You can use the Google map below to plan your route ahead of time. Enjoy exploring the city, and welcome to Chicago!

View Chicago Public Art – The Loop in a larger map

  • Photo by By J. Crocker, via Wikimedia Commons

    (Daley Center Plaza, 50 W. Washington St.) Dubbed "The Picasso," this piece by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso inspired controversy during its 1967 installation for its abstract Cubist style and size (50 feet tall). Photo by By J. Crocker, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Photo by By Kim Scarborough, via Wikimedia Commons

    (The Art Institute of Chicago, Michigan Avenue at Adams Street.) The two bronze lions have guarded the main entrance to the building that now houses the Art Institute since 1894. During the 2013 Stanley Cup play-offs, the lions donned Chicago Blackhawks helmets. Photo by Kim Scarborough, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Photo by By Leon Petrosyan, via Wikimedia Commons

    (Federal Center Plaza, Dearborn and Adams streets.) At 53 feet high, this abstract steel sculpture, unveiled in 1974, was designed by Alexander Calder to offset the surrounding buildings. Photo by Leon Petrosyan, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Photo by Fascinating Universe, via Wikimedia Commons
    Clarence Buckingham Fountain

    (Grant Park, east of Columbus Drive at Congress Parkway.) Marcel Francois Loyau designed the four pairs of sea horses around this 1927 fountain. The sea horses symbolize the four states that border Lake Michigan. Photo by Fascinating Universe, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Cloud Gate, The bean at Millennium Park, Chicago
    Cloud Gate ("The Bean")

    (Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St.) Cloud Gate is British artist Anish Kapoor's first public outdoor work installed in the United States. The 110-ton sculpture reflects the city skyline and the clouds above. A 12-foot-high arch provides a "gate" to visitors.

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