During a recent trip to Chicago, I had the opportunity to wander around Millennium Park (http://www.millenniumpark.org/). This 24.5-acre public park in downtown Chicago opened in July 2004 and is full of thought-provoking public art (sculptures and installation pieces). The interdisciplinary focus of Millennium Park has made it into a veritable urban arts mecca. It features some of the most innovative art, music performances, architecture and landscape design in the country.
When approaching Millennium Park from Michigan Avenue, the first sculpture you’ll see is the impressive Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa. Moving faces appear on two massive towers made of glass bricks.
In the warmer months, water streams down the sides. Another show- stopper is Cloud Gate (fondly referred to as “The Bean”), a smooth reflective sculpture by Anish Kapoor, located on the AT&T plaza in the middle of the park. On Fridays (6:00-7:00) From November 26 until December 17 (2010), you can get into the holiday spirit while various musical groups carol at CloudGate.
The Jay Pritzker Pavillion outdoor concert venue designed by Frank Gehry is definitely worth a visit as well (sometimes the concerts performed here are free, check the website for concert schedules and more information). It is fittingly named in honor of Chicago businessman Jay Pritzker, who (along with his wife Cindy) established the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1979. The Pavillion is 120 feet high and holds 4,000 people in the stationary red seats as well as up to 7,000 on the adjacent Great Lawn.
The Millennium Park website (www.millenniumpark.org) has loads of information to help you plan your visit (like a downloadable MP3 tour guide, maps and printable information on the sculptures and artists. Admission to the park is always free and it is open daily from 6am – 11pm.