Artist Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” (“The Bean”) is a Chicago landmark, but until next spring, tourists to the Windy City won’t be able to access the stainless steel selfie magnet. The city began maintenance on the Grainger Plaza that surrounds the iconic sculpture on August 15 and will wrap up the project in 2024.
“Cloud Gate” was installed in Chicago’s Millenium Park in 2004. It attracts millions of visitors a year, many of whom cozy up to the 33-foot-high work to pose in front of it or snap selfies in its reflective surface.
In 2017, “The Bean” became the centerpiece of a host of Facebook memes that showed it being Windexed, dressed up for a job interview, and transformed into the whale from the gut-wrenching 1993 children’s movie Free Willy, solidifying the sculpture’s place in American popular culture. “The Bean” has seen its fair share of controversies, too. In 2015, China installed an exact replica in the city of Karamay. Kapoor was not happy. Three years later, the artist sued the National Rifle Association for showing his work in a recruitment video.
While Chicago visitors won’t be able to see the original “Cloud Gate” until next year, eager viewers can see a smaller version in New York City. The “Mini-Bean” is squashed underneath what New Yorkers have dubbed the “Jenga Tower” at 56 Leonard Street in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood.