Michigan at Adams across from Millennium Park.Ad for the Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1879 and has been located at Michigan and Adams since 1893. It’s a little hard to miss; even if you didn’t notice the massive lions standing guard (and sporting wreaths during the holidays or athletic gear if a local team is in the playoffs), or the crowds of people on the steps, or the huge building that extends over the railroad tracks, still, it’s right there, the only building at Michigan and Adams on the east, the only building that looks like a museum, like an Art Institute. And it’s been there since 1893.
You’d think the Art Institute might take pride in that, but apparently not. In CTA advertising, for an exhibit, they promote their location as “Michigan at Adams, across from Millennium Park.”
The Art Institute seems to have succumbed to Millennium Park hype. For those of you who don’t know what Millennium Park is, it’s an enormously expensive “park” in downtown Chicago developed with public and private monies that features dining, music, ice skating, the Cloud Gate sculpture (aka the “Bean”), and an unappealing fountain weirdly designed to minimize the view of the water (isn’t that the point of a fountain? To spew water visibly?). Since it is a public “park” (you see that I use the term loosely), there are a few rare patches of grass that are carefully protected from the public by officious security guards who seem to have their life on the line to keep people off it.
There was a time when the overblown, over-hyped Millennium Park was up the street from the Art Institute. Now it’s the other way around.
Which institution will be the more enduring? Time will tell.
(I prefer Navy Pier. No grass to have to avoid.)
Update, 10 January 2019: People love the Bean.