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A public work of art in Chicago which is a tall curved orange metal structure near city buildings.
Alexander Calder’s iconic Flamingo sculpture at Federal Plaza.
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Downtown Chicago’s best public art

See the iconic work from Picasso to Miro and Chagall

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Alexander Calder’s iconic Flamingo sculpture at Federal Plaza.
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Hidden in plain sight throughout downtown blocks is essentially an open-air gallery of enormous sculptures, mosaics, and murals. The public works of art were created by some of the world’s most famous artists in the last century including Picasso, Calder, Miró, and Chagall.

From the plazas in front of Chicago’s civic buildings to pockets spaces in the Loop’s skyscraper canyons and the iconic green space in Grant Park—these cultural attractions can be easily discovered on foot. Whether you work in the Loop or are touring the Windy City, you’ll get to experience pieces of public art that hold the legacy and history of Chicago.

Here’s are 15 pieces of important downtown public art that every Chicagoan, and visitor, should know.

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1. Cloud Gate

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Cloud Gate
Chicago, IL 60601

Also known as "The Bean,” Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate sculpture is Chicago's most recognizable, and often photographed, pieces of public art since its installation in 2006. Designed by British artist Anish Kapoor, the 66-foot-long polished metal piece casts a wide-angle reflection of the downtown skyline and is impossibly fun place to take selfies.

Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean, in Chicago. The sculpture is a mirrored curved shape that sits in a courtyard. It reflects Chicago’s skyline. Shutterstock

2. Crown Fountain

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124 East Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60601

South of Cloud Gate is Millennium Park’s iconic Crown Foundation, designed by artist Jaume Plensa and Chicago-based Krueck and Sexton Architects. The work features a pair of LED-clad towers that cycle through roughly 1,000 individual faces which spout water through their mouths during the summer. The reflecting pool between the structures is a favorite place for kids to play.

A fountain in Chicago with an LED display that is showing a person’s face. The water spouts out of the person’s mouth. Shutterstock

3. Art Institute of Chicago Lions

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111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603

The two bronze lions outside of the Art Institute of Chicago are the city's oldest pieces of public art (don’t worry, they’ll remain while the museum considers a massive renovation). Designed by sculptor Edward Kemeys, the big cats have stood guard along Michigan Avenue since 1894. Today, the Art Institute dresses the iconic sculptures up for holidays and in the gear of Chicago sports teams during playoff runs.

A large sculpture of a lion in between city buildings in Chicago. Shutterstock

4. Buckingham Fountain

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301 South Columbus Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

Grant Park’s Buckingham Fountain is one of the oldest and most well-established symbols of Chicago. Designed by architects Daniel Burnham and Edward H. Bennett in an ornate French Baroque style, it was dedicated in 1927. The fountain’s basin contains 1.5 million gallons of water which it shoots up to 150 feet in the air during its hourly shows.

A water fountain in a courtyard in Chicago. In the distance are the tall city buildings of the Chicago skyline. Shutterstock

5. Fountain of the Great Lakes

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Set back from Michigan Avenue in the South Garden of the Art Institute, this 1913 fountain by sculptor Lorado Taft features five bronze nymphs that symbolize the Great Lakes. Water cascades from shells held by each figure, representing the flow of water from Lake Superior to the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Originally positioned along the building’s southern wall, the fountain moved in 1963 from the West Side of the Art Institute’s new Modern Wing.

A water fountain called Fountain of the Great Lakes in Chicago. The fountain has a sculpture of a group of people with wash basins. Shutterstock

6. The Picasso at Daley Plaza

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Cook County Environmental Control, 69 West Washington Street # 1900
Chicago, IL 60602

It’s incredible that Chicago has a 50-foot original Pablo Picasso sculpture right in the middle of Daley Plaza. However, at the time of its 1967 debut many Chicagoans were critical of the avant-garde, abstract piece calling it an insect and a baboon. Over the years, people grew to love “The Picasso,” and has developed into one of the great symbols of Chicago.

A large black and white sculpture by Pablo Picasso. The sculpture is composed of various curved shapes. Shutterstock

7. Miró's Chicago

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69 W Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602

Across the street from Picasso, is another well regarded artist’s work. Look between the Cook County Administration Building and the Chicago Temple to find a sculpture created by notable Spanish artist Joan Miró. The tall figure with a little red mosaic seat at the base was designed in 1981, just two years before his death.

8. Monument with Standing Beast

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100 West Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601

This 10-ton sculpture by artist Jean Dubuffet debuted in 1984 in front of the Helmut Jahn-designed Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph. The design features four interlocking elements and invites guests to walk through the piece. The sale of the Thompson Center appears inevitable, and it’s not clear if Monument with Standing Beast has adequate protection.

A sculpture called Monument with Standing Beast in Chicago. The sculpture is black and white and is comprised of various geometric shapes. Shutterstock

9. Four Seasons

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10 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60603

Located in the plaza at the base of Chase Tower, this colorful mosaic was completed by surrealist painter Marc Chagall in 1974. As its name implies, the four-sided piece depicts the arrival of spring, summer, winter, and fall. A 1994 renovation added a protective glass canopy above Chagall’s work.

A work of public art by Marc Chagall in Chicago. The wall is a colorful mosaic. There is a glass ceiling above the wall. Shutterstock

10. Flamingo

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50 West Adams Street
Chicago, IL 60610

Alexander Calder’s Flamingo was unveiled in Chicago’s Federal Center Plaza in 1974, although the artist’s signature indicates it was completed one year prior. The steel sculpture features a bright red coloration that stands out against the dark backdrop of its modernist neighbors. Calder’s creation has made appearances in numerous movies, most notably acting as the backdrop for the scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off where Cameron and Sloan discuss life after high school.

A large red metal sculpture in a courtyard surrounded by buildings in Chicago. Shutterstock

11. Ceres

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141 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60604

This 30-foot-tall sculpture of Ceres, the goddess of grain, stands 45-stories in the air atop of the Art Deco Chicago Board of Trade building. Designed by John H. Storrs in the 1930s, the figure holds wheat and corn as a reference to the commodities being exchanged on the trading floors below. According to local legend, Storrs designed Ceres with no face, assuming no future building would ever rise high enough to notice.

The top of a building in Chicago with a sculpture of a person called Ceres. The sculpture is on top of the building. Getty Images

12. The Sounding Sculpture

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200 East Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601

Located at the base of the Aon Center skyscraper at the corner of Randolph Street and Columbus Drive, this installation from artist Harry Bertoia features an array of flexible metal rods that sway in the breeze and produce ambient noise. The future for this public work is currently unclear. The owners of the Aon Center plan to build an entrance pavilion for an upcoming observation deck at the exact location of Bertoia’s installation.

13. Art on The Mart

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278-294 W Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60606

Art on The Mart is the largest permanent digital art installation of its kind in the world. Using 34 projectors, Obscura Digital and architecture firm Valerio Dewalt Train Associates have transformed the limestone facade of the Merchandise Mart into a 2.5-acre canvas for digital expression. Although it debuted in late 2018, Art on The Mart has already made itself into a entertaining spectacle that can be admired from the Riverwalk.

14. Agora

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Agora, S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

At the far south end of Grant Park is Agora, an eerie installation of 106 disembodied metal legs. Installed in 2006, the nine-foot sculptures come from Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz who has explored the theme of crowds based on her experiences during World War II and Soviet occupation. The Chicago Park District describes Agora as the most important and extensive sculptural installations in Chicago’s recent history.

A public art installation in Chicago called Agora. There are many red metal sculptures of people without heads or arms. Shutterstock

15. Chicago Stock Exchange Arch

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Nichols Bridgeway Southwest corner of S. Columbus Drive and E
Chicago, IL 60603

Designed by architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, this ornate terra cotta archway stands at the northwest corner of the Art Institute as the most famous surviving fragment of the grandiose Chicago Stock Exchange building. Built in 1893, the Loop structure was demolished in 1972 to the alarm of preservationists. Five years after the destruction, the arch was moved outside the Art Institute which houses a replica of the Trading Room from the building.

The Chicago Stock Exchange Arch. This is a large arch with various details and decorations etched into its facade. Shutterstock

1. Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate, Chicago, IL 60601
Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean, in Chicago. The sculpture is a mirrored curved shape that sits in a courtyard. It reflects Chicago’s skyline. Shutterstock

Also known as "The Bean,” Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate sculpture is Chicago's most recognizable, and often photographed, pieces of public art since its installation in 2006. Designed by British artist Anish Kapoor, the 66-foot-long polished metal piece casts a wide-angle reflection of the downtown skyline and is impossibly fun place to take selfies.

Cloud Gate
Chicago, IL 60601

2. Crown Fountain

124 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60601
A fountain in Chicago with an LED display that is showing a person’s face. The water spouts out of the person’s mouth. Shutterstock

South of Cloud Gate is Millennium Park’s iconic Crown Foundation, designed by artist Jaume Plensa and Chicago-based Krueck and Sexton Architects. The work features a pair of LED-clad towers that cycle through roughly 1,000 individual faces which spout water through their mouths during the summer. The reflecting pool between the structures is a favorite place for kids to play.

124 East Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60601

3. Art Institute of Chicago Lions

111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603
A large sculpture of a lion in between city buildings in Chicago. Shutterstock

The two bronze lions outside of the Art Institute of Chicago are the city's oldest pieces of public art (don’t worry, they’ll remain while the museum considers a massive renovation). Designed by sculptor Edward Kemeys, the big cats have stood guard along Michigan Avenue since 1894. Today, the Art Institute dresses the iconic sculptures up for holidays and in the gear of Chicago sports teams during playoff runs.

111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603

4. Buckingham Fountain

301 South Columbus Drive, Chicago, IL 60605
A water fountain in a courtyard in Chicago. In the distance are the tall city buildings of the Chicago skyline. Shutterstock

Grant Park’s Buckingham Fountain is one of the oldest and most well-established symbols of Chicago. Designed by architects Daniel Burnham and Edward H. Bennett in an ornate French Baroque style, it was dedicated in 1927. The fountain’s basin contains 1.5 million gallons of water which it shoots up to 150 feet in the air during its hourly shows.

301 South Columbus Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

5. Fountain of the Great Lakes

Chicago, IL
A water fountain called Fountain of the Great Lakes in Chicago. The fountain has a sculpture of a group of people with wash basins. Shutterstock

Set back from Michigan Avenue in the South Garden of the Art Institute, this 1913 fountain by sculptor Lorado Taft features five bronze nymphs that symbolize the Great Lakes. Water cascades from shells held by each figure, representing the flow of water from Lake Superior to the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Originally positioned along the building’s southern wall, the fountain moved in 1963 from the West Side of the Art Institute’s new Modern Wing.

6. The Picasso at Daley Plaza

Cook County Environmental Control, 69 West Washington Street # 1900, Chicago, IL 60602
A large black and white sculpture by Pablo Picasso. The sculpture is composed of various curved shapes. Shutterstock

It’s incredible that Chicago has a 50-foot original Pablo Picasso sculpture right in the middle of Daley Plaza. However, at the time of its 1967 debut many Chicagoans were critical of the avant-garde, abstract piece calling it an insect and a baboon. Over the years, people grew to love “The Picasso,” and has developed into one of the great symbols of Chicago.

Cook County Environmental Control, 69 West Washington Street # 1900
Chicago, IL 60602

7. Miró's Chicago

69 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

Across the street from Picasso, is another well regarded artist’s work. Look between the Cook County Administration Building and the Chicago Temple to find a sculpture created by notable Spanish artist Joan Miró. The tall figure with a little red mosaic seat at the base was designed in 1981, just two years before his death.

69 W Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602

8. Monument with Standing Beast

100 West Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601
A sculpture called Monument with Standing Beast in Chicago. The sculpture is black and white and is comprised of various geometric shapes. Shutterstock

This 10-ton sculpture by artist Jean Dubuffet debuted in 1984 in front of the Helmut Jahn-designed Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph. The design features four interlocking elements and invites guests to walk through the piece. The sale of the Thompson Center appears inevitable, and it’s not clear if Monument with Standing Beast has adequate protection.

100 West Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601

9. Four Seasons

10 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60603
A work of public art by Marc Chagall in Chicago. The wall is a colorful mosaic. There is a glass ceiling above the wall. Shutterstock

Located in the plaza at the base of Chase Tower, this colorful mosaic was completed by surrealist painter Marc Chagall in 1974. As its name implies, the four-sided piece depicts the arrival of spring, summer, winter, and fall. A 1994 renovation added a protective glass canopy above Chagall’s work.

10 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60603

10. Flamingo

50 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL 60610
A large red metal sculpture in a courtyard surrounded by buildings in Chicago. Shutterstock

Alexander Calder’s Flamingo was unveiled in Chicago’s Federal Center Plaza in 1974, although the artist’s signature indicates it was completed one year prior. The steel sculpture features a bright red coloration that stands out against the dark backdrop of its modernist neighbors. Calder’s creation has made appearances in numerous movies, most notably acting as the backdrop for the scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off where Cameron and Sloan discuss life after high school.

50 West Adams Street
Chicago, IL 60610

11. Ceres

141 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604
The top of a building in Chicago with a sculpture of a person called Ceres. The sculpture is on top of the building. Getty Images

This 30-foot-tall sculpture of Ceres, the goddess of grain, stands 45-stories in the air atop of the Art Deco Chicago Board of Trade building. Designed by John H. Storrs in the 1930s, the figure holds wheat and corn as a reference to the commodities being exchanged on the trading floors below. According to local legend, Storrs designed Ceres with no face, assuming no future building would ever rise high enough to notice.

141 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60604

12. The Sounding Sculpture

200 East Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601

Located at the base of the Aon Center skyscraper at the corner of Randolph Street and Columbus Drive, this installation from artist Harry Bertoia features an array of flexible metal rods that sway in the breeze and produce ambient noise. The future for this public work is currently unclear. The owners of the Aon Center plan to build an entrance pavilion for an upcoming observation deck at the exact location of Bertoia’s installation.

200 East Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601

13. Art on The Mart

278-294 W Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

Art on The Mart is the largest permanent digital art installation of its kind in the world. Using 34 projectors, Obscura Digital and architecture firm Valerio Dewalt Train Associates have transformed the limestone facade of the Merchandise Mart into a 2.5-acre canvas for digital expression. Although it debuted in late 2018, Art on The Mart has already made itself into a entertaining spectacle that can be admired from the Riverwalk.

278-294 W Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60606

14. Agora

Agora, S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605
A public art installation in Chicago called Agora. There are many red metal sculptures of people without heads or arms. Shutterstock

At the far south end of Grant Park is Agora, an eerie installation of 106 disembodied metal legs. Installed in 2006, the nine-foot sculptures come from Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz who has explored the theme of crowds based on her experiences during World War II and Soviet occupation. The Chicago Park District describes Agora as the most important and extensive sculptural installations in Chicago’s recent history.

Agora, S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

15. Chicago Stock Exchange Arch

Nichols Bridgeway Southwest corner of S. Columbus Drive and E, Chicago, IL 60603
The Chicago Stock Exchange Arch. This is a large arch with various details and decorations etched into its facade. Shutterstock

Designed by architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, this ornate terra cotta archway stands at the northwest corner of the Art Institute as the most famous surviving fragment of the grandiose Chicago Stock Exchange building. Built in 1893, the Loop structure was demolished in 1972 to the alarm of preservationists. Five years after the destruction, the arch was moved outside the Art Institute which houses a replica of the Trading Room from the building.

Nichols Bridgeway Southwest corner of S. Columbus Drive and E
Chicago, IL 60603