Art Institute Lions

111 S Michigan Ave Chicago

Free Chicago Walking Tours
Written By Free Chicago Walking Tours

Free Chicago Walking Tours offers guided 2-hour walking tours of Chicago's most iconic neighborhoods and sights. We are Chicago's only locally owned free tour operator. Our experienced guides take pride in their tours and it shows - we received the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in 2018 and are proud partners of Choose Chicago.

These two Lions – titled simply “Lions” are the oldest pieces of public art that we will see on this tour and some of the oldest in Chicago. Each of these lions is over 120 years old. They were originally produced in plaster and part of a collection of more than 35 plaster castings of American wildlife by Edward Kemeys for the World's Fair Chicago hosted in 1893. Originally the lions were placed in front of the Fine Arts Palace. The following year these beasts were recast in bronze the following year and moved 7 miles north to this location at the western entrance of the Art Institute of Chicago and unveiled on May 10, 1894.

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If you take a closer look you’ll notice that they’re different and each lion has an unofficial name – given to them by the sculptor. Facing the lions, the one on the south end (to the right) is named “Stands in an Attitude of Defiance” and the one on the north end (to the left) is named “On the Prowl” These lions are really good sports too. They’re often times decorated with sports team paraphernalia when a local Chicago team is in their league's​ respective championship game and get a wreath around their necks during the holiday season!

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