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Here Now, 13 Indoor Public Art Hotspots for the Cold Season

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As we prepare for the long hibernation ahead (and the meat of the NFL season), it's worth clinging to scraps of cosmopolitan culture. Yes, the fall and winter is primetime for Chicago's museums but knowing where to locate free indoor public art is a critical enhancement. Fact is, most public art is commissioned for the great outdoors. And some of it is better understood as memorial. There are many private stores of art too, from larger-than-life office tower lobby fluff pieces that serve a corporate mythology to the impressive collections of moneyed social clubs (Union League, University Club, Arts Club).

Since there's so much to see and since we've already put out a public transit art map and a sort of 'guerrilla' art map focused on underpasses, we elected this time to stick to indoor hotspots. Anchoring the list are addresses with sizable collections: Harold Washington Library; Chicago Cultural Center; and both airports. From there we move about the downtown in an effort to keep things centralized. Take a few minutes when passing a site, or a few hours when needing to commune. Also, you might not travel for it but most branch libraries house a modicum of art.
·Under the Overpass: Public Art in Challenging Spaces [Curbed Chicago]
·Expanded: A Transit-Friendly Tour of Public Art [Curbed Chicago]

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1. Harold Washington Library

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400 S. State St.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 747-4300
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There are dozens of individual works on display in the halls, reading rooms, and stacks of our central library. Highlights include an Ed Paschke painting, Marisol Escobar's "Women Leaning" wooden sculptures, a ceiling installation by Nancy Spero, and a large mural chronicling the life of Mayor Harold Washington.

2. Chicago Cultural Center

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78 E Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-6630
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The Cultural Center comes closest to major museum curation among the points on this map. Its mission is to feature large rotating exhibits with a bent toward the local in some of the building's grandest spaces--spaces built for books 115 years ago. Current exhibitions include Chicago street art, figurative ceramic sculpture, and rock-and-roll photography.

3. O'Hare International Airport

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10000 W O'Hare Ave
Chicago, IL 60666
(773) 894-9111
Visit Website

Legions of artists display at O'Hare, and much of it is invisible to the harried traveler. Hint: look up. The terminals' overhead clearance is where the largest, most transformative works are found including abstract resin chandeliers, the famed neon light display in the long tunnel between terminals, and a dozen murals brightening up a sterile corridor in the international terminal. There's also an ever-rotating selection of 2-D wall art exhibits.

4. Midway International Airport (MDW)

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5700 S Cicero Ave
Chicago, IL 60638
(773) 838-9111
Visit Website

Completed in 2003, the Midway International Airport redevelopment project provided Chicago with a state-of-the-art airpot terminal, as well as significant additions to its world-class art collection. Several artists are permanently exhibited at Midway, and the work ranges from the pictured suspended steel cable sculpture to photographic installations to an art glass Tuskegee Airmen Commemorative.

5. Gallery 37 Center for the Arts

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66 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 744-8925
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The city's own free and public arts center includes gallery space and three site-specific sculptural installations: an elaborate kinetic sculpture by Christopher Furman; a theater marquee and box office by Jeffrey Goldstein; and a mosaic relief by Phil Schuster and Mirte. Other art is rotating.

6. Chicago Center for Green Technology

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445 N Sacramento Blvd
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 746-9642
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This green technology educational institute in Humboldt Park has a small permanent art display and a rotating seasonal series of installations by Ann Wiens. It's a pretty sweet facility to boot, with LEED Platinum certification and sprawling gardens.

7. Goldblatt's Building

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1613-35 W. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60522

The landmark Goldblatt's office building at Chicago & Ashland was renovated a decade ago and now houses city departments. If you're all tapped out on Harold Washington, the Goldblatt's branch library is another good bet for public art. A few installations are to be had at any given point, chief among them Tony Tasset's "Snow Sculpture for Chicago".

8. City Gallery

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806 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

Tucked inside the historic Water Tower, a city-run showcase of of local Chicago-themed photography is free and open daily. Here's your viable excuse to finally tour the Water Tower.

9. Universe

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233 S Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 875-0066
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Artist: Alexander CalderDate: 1974About: This grand-scale geometric mobile installation hangs from the ceiling of the Sears Tower's Wacker lobby. The multiple small pieces move continuously and independently, suggesting the infinite energy of the cosmos, its ceaseless expansion, and its hurtling planetary bodies. The subject of a tug-of-war b/w outgoing Sears and incoming Willis, the sculpture has mercifully remained in place.

10. The Town-Ho's Story

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METCALFE FEDERAL BUILDING
CHICAGO, IL

Artist: Frank StellaDate: 1993About: This is one massive abstraction, built of several small metal sculptures coarsely joined by the pouring of molten aluminum over the structure. The Town-Ho’s Story is part of Stella’s Moby Dick series, the novel from which the name derives.

11. Chicago Fugue

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190 S La Salle St
Chicago, IL 60603

Artist: Sir Anthony CaroDate: 1987About: This large-scale Bronze abstract sculpture alludes to musical instruments. It occupies the lobby of a 40-story Philip Johnson-designed office tower.

12. La Tormenta (The Storm)

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101 W Congress Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60605

Artist: Iñigo Manglano-OvalleDate: 2006About: This collaborative piece b/w artist, architect, and scientist yields an abstract storm cloud sculpture hanging over public space at 101 W Congress. It's meant to call on mutable interactions between politics, history, technology, culture, identity, and time.

13. Transit

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567 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60661

Artist: John BannonDate: 2004About: From the Chicago Public Art Project: "Twenty-two neon tubes, suspended in the atrium of CTA Headquarters, simultaneously describe three images celebrating four different aspects of the transit authority. When viewed from below, Transit depicts the CTA train and bus system maps. Looking west from the lobby mezzanine, an elevated train appears to depart a station, while the north-facing image is a CTA bus. The title, Transit, reflects both the subject matter and the action the viewer takes to see the three neon images."

1. Harold Washington Library

400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605

There are dozens of individual works on display in the halls, reading rooms, and stacks of our central library. Highlights include an Ed Paschke painting, Marisol Escobar's "Women Leaning" wooden sculptures, a ceiling installation by Nancy Spero, and a large mural chronicling the life of Mayor Harold Washington.

400 S. State St.
Chicago, IL 60605

2. Chicago Cultural Center

78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

The Cultural Center comes closest to major museum curation among the points on this map. Its mission is to feature large rotating exhibits with a bent toward the local in some of the building's grandest spaces--spaces built for books 115 years ago. Current exhibitions include Chicago street art, figurative ceramic sculpture, and rock-and-roll photography.

78 E Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602

3. O'Hare International Airport

10000 W O'Hare Ave, Chicago, IL 60666

Legions of artists display at O'Hare, and much of it is invisible to the harried traveler. Hint: look up. The terminals' overhead clearance is where the largest, most transformative works are found including abstract resin chandeliers, the famed neon light display in the long tunnel between terminals, and a dozen murals brightening up a sterile corridor in the international terminal. There's also an ever-rotating selection of 2-D wall art exhibits.

10000 W O'Hare Ave
Chicago, IL 60666

4. Midway International Airport (MDW)

5700 S Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL 60638

Completed in 2003, the Midway International Airport redevelopment project provided Chicago with a state-of-the-art airpot terminal, as well as significant additions to its world-class art collection. Several artists are permanently exhibited at Midway, and the work ranges from the pictured suspended steel cable sculpture to photographic installations to an art glass Tuskegee Airmen Commemorative.

5700 S Cicero Ave
Chicago, IL 60638

5. Gallery 37 Center for the Arts

66 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601

The city's own free and public arts center includes gallery space and three site-specific sculptural installations: an elaborate kinetic sculpture by Christopher Furman; a theater marquee and box office by Jeffrey Goldstein; and a mosaic relief by Phil Schuster and Mirte. Other art is rotating.

66 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601

6. Chicago Center for Green Technology

445 N Sacramento Blvd, Chicago, IL 60612

This green technology educational institute in Humboldt Park has a small permanent art display and a rotating seasonal series of installations by Ann Wiens. It's a pretty sweet facility to boot, with LEED Platinum certification and sprawling gardens.

445 N Sacramento Blvd
Chicago, IL 60612

7. Goldblatt's Building

1613-35 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60522

The landmark Goldblatt's office building at Chicago & Ashland was renovated a decade ago and now houses city departments. If you're all tapped out on Harold Washington, the Goldblatt's branch library is another good bet for public art. A few installations are to be had at any given point, chief among them Tony Tasset's "Snow Sculpture for Chicago".

1613-35 W. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60522

8. City Gallery

806 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611

Tucked inside the historic Water Tower, a city-run showcase of of local Chicago-themed photography is free and open daily. Here's your viable excuse to finally tour the Water Tower.

806 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

9. Universe

233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

Artist: Alexander CalderDate: 1974About: This grand-scale geometric mobile installation hangs from the ceiling of the Sears Tower's Wacker lobby. The multiple small pieces move continuously and independently, suggesting the infinite energy of the cosmos, its ceaseless expansion, and its hurtling planetary bodies. The subject of a tug-of-war b/w outgoing Sears and incoming Willis, the sculpture has mercifully remained in place.

233 S Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60606

10. The Town-Ho's Story

METCALFE FEDERAL BUILDING, CHICAGO, IL

Artist: Frank StellaDate: 1993About: This is one massive abstraction, built of several small metal sculptures coarsely joined by the pouring of molten aluminum over the structure. The Town-Ho’s Story is part of Stella’s Moby Dick series, the novel from which the name derives.

METCALFE FEDERAL BUILDING
CHICAGO, IL

11. Chicago Fugue

190 S La Salle St, Chicago, IL 60603

Artist: Sir Anthony CaroDate: 1987About: This large-scale Bronze abstract sculpture alludes to musical instruments. It occupies the lobby of a 40-story Philip Johnson-designed office tower.

190 S La Salle St
Chicago, IL 60603

12. La Tormenta (The Storm)

101 W Congress Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60605

Artist: Iñigo Manglano-OvalleDate: 2006About: This collaborative piece b/w artist, architect, and scientist yields an abstract storm cloud sculpture hanging over public space at 101 W Congress. It's meant to call on mutable interactions between politics, history, technology, culture, identity, and time.

101 W Congress Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60605

13. Transit

567 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60661

Artist: John BannonDate: 2004About: From the Chicago Public Art Project: "Twenty-two neon tubes, suspended in the atrium of CTA Headquarters, simultaneously describe three images celebrating four different aspects of the transit authority. When viewed from below, Transit depicts the CTA train and bus system maps. Looking west from the lobby mezzanine, an elevated train appears to depart a station, while the north-facing image is a CTA bus. The title, Transit, reflects both the subject matter and the action the viewer takes to see the three neon images."

567 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60661