It seems that you can hardly go a block in Chicago without seeing a statue or a sculpture. There’s Chicago athletes like Ernie Banks in front of Wrigley Field or Michael Jordan at the United Center. There’s media stars from Chicago’s past such as Jack Brickhouse on Pioneer Plaza, Irv Kupcinet at Wacker & Wabash and Harry Carey at Wrigley.
There’s Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln Park; the lions guarding the Art Institute of Chicago; the giant Picasso casting its shadow on Daley Plaza and so many more–if only they could talk–what would they say?
Last summer, Chicagoans and visitors got a chance to hear some of their stories with the launch of an innovative public art exhibition called Statue Stories Chicago
The exhibition, a joint effort by British arts producers, Sing London, the Chicago Park District, and some of Chicago’s leading theatres cumulated in the creation of a series of stories for neatly 30 Chicago statues.
Since then, Chicago has been listening. Walk by any of these statues and you’ll see visitors swiping their smartphones on the nearby signs in order to get a call back from the likes of Shakespeare, Lincoln and even Bob Newhart to hear their stories.
With the Chicago weather heating up along with four newly added statues (Brachiosaurus, Fountain Girl, Bronze Cow and Spirit of the Great Lakes) in the mix, it seems like this may be the perfect time to revisit (or visit for the first time) this blockbuster exhibition before it goes away at the end of summer 2016.
Although you can stop by any of the talking statues on your way to work, shopping or a restaurant, if you want to hear more, the city has put together two self-guided tours that should take two hours or less per tour.
Self-Guided Tour #1: The Loop to the Magnificent Mile
1. Take CTA Red Line to Lake St. – walk to The Picasso (Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St.)
2. Miro’s Chicago Brunswick Plaza, 77 W. Washington St.) – then take CTA Red Line from Monroe to Roosevelt
3. Joseph Rosenberg Fountain (Grant Park, S. Michigan Ave. at 11th St.)
4. Aaron Montgomery Ward (Grant Park, East of S. Michigan Ave. at E. 11th St.)
5. Spirit of Music (Grant Park, S. Michigan Ave. at E. Balbo Dr.)
6. Spirit of the Great Lakes (Grant Park, Art Institute of Chicago South Garden, 111 S. Michigan Ave.)
7 & 8. North and South Lions (Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.)
9. Cloud Gate (Millennium Park, AT&T Plaza)
10. Bronze Cow (Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.)- then take Michigan Ave bus north to Tribune Tower
11. Jean-Baptiste Point Du Sable (Pioneer Court/Chicago River and Michigan Ave.)
12. Nathan Hale (Tribune Tower, 435 N. Michigan Ave.)
13. Benito Juarez (Plaza of the Americas, 430 N. Michigan Ave.)
Estimated Time: 2 hours
Self-Guided Tour #2: Lincoln Park to Oz Park
- Fountain Girl (East of Abraham Lincoln Monument
- Abraham Lincoln (East of Chicago History Museum)
- Benjamin Franklin (North of W. La Salle Dr.)
- William Shakespeare (West of Lincoln Park Conservatory)- walk West to Oz Park
- Tin Man (W. Webster Ave. at N. Larrabee St.)
- Dorothy and Toto (W. Webster Ave. near 700 W.)
- The Cowardly Lion (N. Larrabee St. at W. Dickens Ave.)
Estimated Time: 90 minutes
Although not all the statues are included in these two self-guided tours, they should give you a good overview of Chicago’s history. Other statues are located in areas further from the city such as the World’s Fair Bison in Humboldt Park and Paul Laurence Dunbar in Dunbar Park and others.
For a complete list of all of Chicago’s talking statues, click here.
The voices you’ll hear feature both local and national celebrities including Elizabeth McGovern, Bob Newhart, David Schwimmer, Renee Fleming, John C. Reilly and a host of others.
To hear the statues speak, all you have to do is to swipe your smartphone on a nearby sign and almost immediately you’ll get a “call back” from the statue with its story.
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