Cloud Gate reopens in Chicago after Millenium Park renovation

There are few sculptures that have become more emblematic of a city than Chicago’s “Bean,” now open to the public again after nearly a year of renovation. The renovation project involved a rebuild of the plaza podium, the addition of new stairs, accessible ramps, and a waterproofing system.

Officially named Cloud Gate, the famed sculpture by Anish Kapoor debuted in Millennium Park in 2004. Kapoor created the Bean using 168 steel plates fixed to an inside frame with flexible connectors, allowing it to expand and contract as the weather changes. The 110-ton, $11.5 million design was inspired by liquid mercury. Kapoor has described the sculpture as “part of the city and its public space.” The international artist debuted a version of the reflective art piece at the base of 56 Leonard Street in Manhattan in 2023

The Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility Management (2FM) led the renovation project, which began in August 2023. For the better part of the last year Chicago denizens and tourists looking to take a selfie with the sculpture were instead met by a chained fencing that surrounded the art piece. According to the City of Chicago, the renovation aimed to improve visitor experience and the park’s appearance. Visitors now have full access to the Bean and Millenium Park, despite some ongoing landscape renovations.

Clinée Hedspeth, the commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, said in a statement: “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.”

The Bean reopens in time for Millennium Park’s 20th anniversary. Celebrations will take place July 18–21 throughout Millenium Park and will feature concerts including the Grant Park Orchestra and Chicago native Common.

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