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The Bean.

The Bean

Field review by the editors.

Chicago, Illinois

The Bean -- a giant, shiny alien legume that works as a huge funhouse mirror -- is a short walk from the Begin Route 66 sign. Most Route 66 attractions would love to have had The Bean's budget, which ballooned to $23 million by the time it was unveiled on May 15, 2006. A chunk of that cash was spent satisfying sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor's demand that The Bean have no visible seams between its 168 stainless steel plates. This eventually earned it an Extraordinary Welding Award from the American Welding Society.

The Bean is 66 feet long -- a coincidence, with no connection to Route 66 -- and weighs 100 tons. Kapoor called it Cloud Gate because of the way its polished surface sometimes blends with clouds in the sky. However, he did not announce this until after the public had named it The Bean, a title that he quickly dismissed as "completely stupid." Too bad; as with Chevy on a Stick, the nickname is the one by which most people know the artwork.

Visitors, some possibly in altered states, walk beneath the 12-foot-high concave underbelly of The Bean and stare at their warped reflections. Fears that The Bean's mirrored surface might blind people, or that touching it would burn or freeze human skin, proved unwarranted. But it remains high-maintenance art; money is spent every year paying workers to keep The Bean polished and free of bird poop.

Also see: Cloud Column: Houston's Bean

The Bean

Cloud Gate

S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL
Cloud Gate. In Millennium Park, just east of Michigan Ave., between Washington and Madison Sts.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Crown Fountain - Spraying FacesCrown Fountain - Spraying Faces, Chicago, IL - < 1 mi.
Begin Route 66 SignBegin Route 66 Sign, Chicago, IL - < 1 mi.
Chicago in MiniatureChicago in Miniature, Chicago, IL - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Large Mortar and Pestle, Chicago, IL - 3 mi.

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