Although a relatively new addition to Chicago’s already impressive itinerary, Millennium Park is a must see for anyone visiting Chicago. In fact, despite its young age, it is already Illinois’ second biggest tourist attraction behind Navy Pier. Prior to its opening in 2004, Millennium Park was a very different place, one filled with rail yards and parking lots, the last place one would suspect would someday become a park. Thanks to work by both the city and private donations, Chicago transformed this industrial center into a twenty-five-acre park for residents and visitors to enjoy and for artists to show their work.
Contemporary art is one of the cornerstones of Millennium Park’s appeal, as the city commissioned works by artists to decorate the park and Millennium Park has become iconic as a result. The most famous is Cloud Gate, affectionately known as “The Bean.” Cloud Gate is a massive oval structure made of polished steel plates and is British artist Anish Kapoor's first outdoor sculpture ever displayed to the public in the United States. Standing at over thirty feet tall, Cloud Gate’s unique structure provides a distorted reflection of the city, allowing a perfect opportunity to take photos of the largest sculpture of its kind in the world and a true Chicago treasure.
True to its purpose as a showcase for art, even the outdoor pavilion where concerts and film screenings take place is a work of contemporary art. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion was designed by Frank Gehry as a deconstructionist piece with a structure that resembles steel ribbons above the pavilion and a sound system designed to mimic the acoustics of an indoor theater to create a one of a kind experiences for anyone seeing a film or concert there. As one would expect, the structure displaying seemingly random faces is also an art piece, the Crown Fountain displays the faces of Chicago residents on its fifty-foot tower and provides a wading pool to cool off in the summer months. Boeing Galleries also has different pieces in rotation throughout the year, ensuring you will see something new to capture your imagination every time you visit. If you need a break from the ever-present noise of the city, the BP Bridge was designed to be a sound barrier to help you find relative quiet for a serene walk through the park. These and many more unique opportunities to experience cutting edge art await anyone who visits Millennium Park.
When you go will determine what will be available to do in Millennium Park. During the summer months, there are scheduled music and film events if that is of interest to you. During the winter, however, the famous McCormick Tribune Ice Rink is open to the public for anyone interested in ice skating. There are options for both experienced ice skaters and those who just want to try it out for the first time. Whether you are interested in contemporary art, ice skating, or just a stroll through a unique park, Millennium Park is for you.
Picture by millennium_park via Instagram