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

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Photo by Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0
TripAdvisor recently named the Art Institute of Chicago the No. 1 museum in the U.S. Photo by Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, 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

  • Untitled

    (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

  • Lions

    (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

  • Flamingo

    (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

  • 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")

    (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.

Recommended by the Editors: 

One of the most enjoyable parts of the holiday season is decorating your home. From the twinkle of candlelight to the smell of fresh pine needles, holiday decorations for the home create a festive, fun and memorable season.

Sadly, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), home holiday decorations also cause over 400 holiday fires each year, resulting in $15 million in property loss and damage. Don’t let your holidays go up in flames! Protect your home and family with these decoration safety tips:

1. Choose non-flammable and flame retardant decorations

Be smart about decorations. Vintage holiday decorations made from paper, lace or fabric may look beautiful, but they are often highly flammable. Display your vintage decorations away from any heat source, including holiday lights and the fireplace.

2. Never leave a candle burning

From Menorahs to Advent wreaths, candlelight makes the holidays special. Unfortunately, according to CPSC, there are also 11,000 candle-related fires each year, resulting in 150 deaths and 1,200 injuries annually. Never leave a room with a candle burning, and never go near a Christmas tree with a lit candle, lighter or match.

3. Don’t overload your outlets

When stringing lights, it’s easy to overload electrical outlets. Never link more than three light strings, unless the light directions specifically indicate that it is safe to do so. Periodically check the light strings — warm strands indicate that the cords are overheating and need to be unplugged. Always unplug lights when you are not home.

4. Keep your Christmas tree fresh

Dry Christmas trees can go up in flames in a matter of seconds. When selecting your tree, make sure it passes the shake test. Your tree should be sticky to the touch and when shaken, minimal needles will fall. This ensures that your tree is fresh and that with proper care, it will last for at least two weeks. When setting up your tree, place it as far as possible from a heat source to prevent your tree from drying out too fast. Keep your tree fresh with plenty of water, and never toss branches into the fireplace.

5. Don’t block the exit

In your excitement to squeeze as many special decorations as possible into our homes, it’s all too easy to block a doorway or exit. Remember, in the event of a fire, every minute matters. Ensure that your holiday decorations for the home don’t block doors or otherwise hinder your ability to quickly and safely exit.

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