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Walking Tour of Public Outdoor Art in the Loop

Works by Picasso, Chagall and others adorn the Second City
id_211076
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2.6 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview:  Chicago is famous for its iconic architecture, but it's quickly gaining a worldwide reputation for its iconic public art as well.

The... more »

Tips:  This tour highlights the main art installations along the walk. But take your time and look around. Art is big in Chicago. The facades... more »

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Points of Interest

Installed in Daley Plaza in 1967, this nameless sculpture by Pablo Picasso is the granddaddy of Chicago's public art scene.

In the rare event a Chicago sports team is doing well, look for the Picasso to sport a team hat as kids slide down its surface. (Just a warning: This is a dark metal sculpture. It gets very, very hot on summer days. Test... More

2. Miro's 'Chicago'

Tucked in an alcove in front of the Cook County Administration building, this sculpture by Spanish artist Joan Miro is made of steel, wire mesh, concrete, bronze and ceramic tile.

The city's guide to public art says, "The bell-shaped base draws the viewer’s gaze downward, symbolizing Miro’s association of the female form with the earth. The... More

This is one of Chicago's happiest pieces of public art. It sits in the courtyard of the Chase Bank building, a popular lunch spot with nearby office workers who spread out on the steps to catch a few rays and maybe listen to a free concert on a warm day.

Spend some time looking at the mural to pick out each of the six Chicago scenes the artist... More

4. Calder's 'Flamingo'

This expansive sculpture adorns Federal Plaza, a common site for public demonstrations against U.S. government policies.

Its curvaceous whimsy sits in contrast to the stark Mies van der Rohe-designed U.S. Post Office and federal buildings that surround it.

The city's public art guide says, "Alexander Calder’s abstract stabile anchors the... More

5. 'The Flight of Daedalus and Icarus'

This mosaic hovers over the doorway of 120 N. LaSalle, the street that serves as the beating heart of Chicago's financial district. As you walk north on LaSalle, look behind you to see the Chicago Board of Trade at the south end of LaSalle. The CBOT is the world's oldest futures and options exchange, where future prices on grains and products are ... More

This fiberglass sculpture by Jean Dubuffet was derided by locals for its Snoopy-like (a cartoon dog character) look when it was installed in 1984 in front of the modern building that houses Illinois state government, the James R. Thompson Center.

The city art guide says, "Jean Dubuffet felt a special affection for Chicago, home to one of... More

7. Irv Kupcinet Memorial

A relatively rare traditional bronze sculpture, this piece by Preston Jackson honors Irv Kupcinet, a legendary newspaperman in a legendary newspaper town.

The city's public art guide says, "Preston Jackson’s over–life-size sculpture of Irv Kupcinet is a contemporary example of figurative art, sensitively created for and sited in a... More

The bridge houses of the Chicago River are adorned with their own symbolic artwork.

From the city's public art guide: "The sculptural relief panels on each of the four bridge-houses celebrate Chicago’s early history. 'The Discoverers' portrays French explorers Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, and René Robert Cavalier-Sieur de... More

This park is a tour in itself. But as you walk south along Michigan Avenue notice a few of its most famous installations.

"Cloud Gate," or "The Bean," as it is affectionately known by locals, was created by Anish Kapoor. It's made of stainless steel and weighs more than 110 tons. And it's great for taking the family photo... More

There's certainly plenty of art inside this world-class museum, but there's plenty of art outside as well, including the two lions that guard the front steps.

The sculptures by Edward Kemeys have graced Michigan Avenue since 1894. Their poses are similar, but not identical. When Chicago sports teams are winning, look for the lions to wear a team... More

This is not a public art stop, but it only requires a short walk across the Chicago River for a close-up look at the Neo-Gothic Chicago Tribune facade.

Before construction began, Col. Robert McCormick, the paper's legendary publisher, dispatched correspondents to the far corners of the world to acquire (ask for or steal, depending on the version... More