Chicago/ Arts & Culture
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Published on June 23, 2024
Chicago Celebrates as 'The Bean' Sculpture Reopens After Year-Long Renovation Ahead of Millennium Park's 20th AnniversarySource: Google Street View

It's back, and not a moment too soon. Chicago’s renowned Cloud Gate sculpture, affectionately dubbed 'The Bean' by locals and tourists alike, has reopened following an almost year-long facelift. The surrounding Grainger Plaza at 201 E. Randolph St., which has been under wraps since August last year, is once again ready to welcome the public's feet—and their ubiquitous reflection selfies. The construction, initially expected to wrap up by spring, lingered into the balmy beginnings of summer, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Those iconic reflections of Chicago's skyline in the Bean's lustrous curves were obscured behind fences, becoming the canvas for pictures of the structure during the revamp. The overhaul wasn't just cosmetic; it was structural, with a completely rebuilt podium featuring new stairs, and accessible ramps, not to mention the entirely fresh paver layout underfoot. A waterproofing system also joined the infrastructure lineup to protect against the elements, according to NBC Chicago.

Despite the delays, the timing of the reopening couldn't be more apt, with Millennium Park gearing up to celebrate two decades of existence next month. A four-day bash starting on July 18 promises to fill the area with music, outdoor workouts, and the boom and crackle of fireworks. City officials have affirmed that ongoing landscaping improvements will not interfere with public access to Cloud Gate, ensuring clear paths for both die-hard fans and first-time visitors eager to see their images warped and multiplied against its seamless surface.

Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Clinée Hedspeth expressed a collective sense of pride for all parties involved in the project. "Our team applauds 2FM, the Millennium Park Foundation, and everyone else involved in the reopening of this iconic public sculpture that has become a symbol of Chicago across the U.S., and around the world," Hedspeth stated. The surreal quality of the Bean, conceived by artist Anish Kapoor and evocative of liquid mercury, creates a mirror stage that distorts and amplifies the Chicago cityscape with each curve and dip, making it far more than just a shiny photo opp.