America, Featured, Photo Documentaries

Chilly Bean

7 Comments 14 December 2010

Chicago Bean Sculpture


This is one Chilly Bean!  While in Chicago I braved the cold windy weather (yes, it is called the windy city and they aren’t lying!) to go see Millennium park and the ‘Bean’ sculpture.  However, that’s not it’s real name…it’s the nickname those crazy Chicagoans gave to it.  It’s birth name is The Cloud Gate and it is quite unique.  Inspired by liquid mercury, the sculpture is among the largest of its kind in the world, measuring 66-feet long by 33-feet high and weighing 110 tons.  But forget the stats…what does this mean to you?

It means that it’s really fun to photograph.

Millenium Park Chicago Bean

Chilly Bean

Not only does it allow for some amazing landscape photography, but it is a great photography project to work on for an hour or so.  You can slowly circle the bean to capture the warping and bending light all around it. The surface is perfectly polished, however on the day I was there, it had remnants of ice and snow on the mirrored surface creating an even more surreal cloud-like feel.

Ice cold bean

I walked around the scultpure trying to capture it from all angles and perspectives; literally bending buildings while playing with the mirrored reflections.  I’d have to periodically try to warm my hands in my pockets and get the  feeling back into my fingers; it was a cold day for photography!

Cloud Gate Chicago Sculture

Bending Buildings

Chicago Bean Sculpture

Black Bean

The reflections weren’t just with the skyline.  When you walked under the ‘belly’ of the bean, it was as if you had stepped into a mirrored fun house.  The reflections were to infinity and provided a crazy mind bending overload.  The 12-foot underbelly is called the “omphalos” or navel and multiplies reflections in a vortex.

chicago Bean Sculpture

Under the Bean

Millenium park is not only about the bean sculpture, it also has an amazing outdoor theater and other public art displays.  I can only imagine what a magnet the park is in the summer and warmer months.  You can easily reach the park via public transportation as it’s conveniently located near the loop and next to other famous Chicago attractions such as the Art Institute of Chicago.

I didn’t only come to Chicago to photograph the bean, I made a stop in Chicago to see a good travel friend of mine, Lisa Lubin of .  We actually met through the Amateur Traveler podcast and we always joke around about how our lives are so similar.  Lisa is a long time world traveler and has a wealth of information on extended travel, working on the road, and career breaks.  In addition, she blogs about Chicago.  So if you are planning a trip and tours in Chicago – be sure to stop by her site and get her Chicago picks…and let me tell you – her food picks are killer.

Thanks to Lisa for letting me surf her comfy futon (she was the person who turned me on to couch surfing after all!)  And a huge thanks for letting me borrow her winter coat, hat and gloves – else this photography outing wouldn’t have been possible and I probably would have lost some fingers to frostbite!

View all photography from Millenium Park

Your Comments

7 Comments so far

  1. Lynn says:

    Sherry, the under-bean picture is AMAZING!!!

  2. Adam says:

    Fantastic pictures Sherry! We were in Chicago for a wedding in early November and spent over an hour by the bean taking photos. You have motivated me to finally get them on my hard drive and start going through them. Great shots!!

  3. Mark H says:

    The snow on the bean almost makes it look like an exotic globe of the world. I have always considered that sculptures in a town centre is a sign of culture and city pride and I love checking out the strange offerings sprinkled around the world. This one is very special.

  4. Dominique says:

    I loved photographing the Bean and did several posts about it myself–and you’re right, it’s a real people magnet in the summer!

    The snow on the Bean in your photos almost make it look like a strange, elongated, reflective globe of the world.

  5. Today most people believe that Chicago is called the Windy City because of its strong winds, and indeed they do whip off the lake and are intensified as they are channeled through narrow streets between skyscrapers. But the name originally referred to long-winded politicians, yet another thing that my home town is famous for! Just a bit of trivia for your followers.

  6. islandmomma says:

    I am just awed by these photos. Chicago is somewhere I’ve wanted to go for so long, but somehow never got around to! I have a friend who lives there, and she writes frequently about all the amazing events. Moving it up the list! thanks for sharing these!

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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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Where am I and Where am I going?

Minnesota/Wisconsin -> Nebraska

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