Chicago/ Arts & Culture
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Published on June 14, 2024
Chicago's Beloved 'Bean' Poised for Reopening with Upgraded Accessibility Features at Millennium ParkSource: Google Street View

After a lengthy construction process that left many locals and tourists disappointed, Chicago's gleaming Bean — also known as Cloud Gate — is set to unveil itself once again by month's end. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has announced the expected full reopening of the iconic sculpture and its surrounding area, Graier Plaza, after several accessibility upgrades were completed, including new steps, ramps, paver replacements, and waterproofing enhancements. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, these changes are intended to improve the overall visitor experience at Millennium Park.

Last August, the fences went up around the 110-ton landmark designed by artist Anish Kapoor in 2004, and originally, the Bean's reveal was scheduled for April this year. But, spring swept by with the Bean still under wraps. Now, a representative from DCASE has told NBC Chicago, "Weather-permitting, we expect to reopen the Plaza to the public before the end of the month." Clearly, those looking forward to selfie reflections in the Bean's curved surface have their fingers crossed for clear skies.

The delay provoked suggestions for alternative viewing points. While the green-tarped fencing obstructed the close-up views, Choose Chicago prompted visits to Cindy’s, a rooftop bar across the street with terrace views of Cloud Gate. Yet, despite inconvenient viewings and photo ops marred by construction barriers, the anticipation for a Bean comeback has only grown.

It's been nearly two decades since the Cloud Gate came to Chicago, drawing an estimated 20 million visitors to Millennium Park annually. Kapoor's creation remains a standout in the world of public art, despite his later mini-me version tucked under a luxury apartment building in New York City, which prompted Choose Chicago President and CEO Lynn Osmond to remark to the Chicago Tribune, "there are a lot of wannabes, but nothing will beat Chicago’s." With the reopening on the horizon, Chicagoans and visitors alike are soon to be reacquainted with this reflective marvel — a fixture of the city's contemporary cultural landscape.