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Public Art

Navy Pier is an architectural gem and an engineering marvel. Sitting nearly a mile into Lake Michigan and dating back more than 100 years, “The People’s Pier” blends form and function, the old and the new, to create one of the most unique structures in the world. That makes Navy Pier the perfect place to gather and display public art and exhibitions.

As it enters its second century, Navy Pier has become a community-focused cultural district. Our eclectic array of public art and exhibitions reflects both our physical space and our philosophical mission. As the nonprofit stewards of a large, public place, we commit to present iconic, contemporary art installations and exhibitions that attract, excite and inspire our guests. We offer art that is free and accessible to all.

Experiencing Chicago's Art Scene at Navy Pier

We consider public art to be a valuable part of any visit to Navy Pier. Guests get to escape their urban, concrete jungle to find shapes, colors and creations surrounded by green spaces and blue waters.

Some of the creative, artistic expressions you'll find at Navy Pier are permanent installations. Others are special art events, temporary installations or seasonal displays. We offer both established and upcoming artists platforms to showcase their talent and work to large audiences, without fear of criticism or pressure to sell tickets.

Art on Display at Navy Pier

As part of our permanent collection, guests can find a giant letter “P” or several bronze statues in and around Polk Bros Park. Nearby, they may discover temporary, cutting-edge works by some of the city’s most innovative, new artists. Some of these displays may even be interactive.

Along the Pier’s redesigned South Dock, they also may encounter art exhibitions or artistic performances that are completely unexpected. A great example is the Navy Pier collaboration of performance art, created by contemporary artist Nick Cave and architect Jeanne Gang, as part of the EXPO CHICAGO 2017 festivities.

Guests may choose to attend annual art events, such as SOFA CHICAGO.  This show always offers a stunning collection of sculpture, objects, functional art and design. Some works are so large and so breathtaking, they only fit in a place like our Festival Hall.

Guests also visit temporary, pop-up art exhibitions that few people will get to experience anywhere else. A perfect example is the 2017 limited tour of items relating to the career of The Rolling Stones. 

No matter what they encounter here, public art will continue to be an important element of the new Navy Pier. Thank you for taking the time to discover and enjoy these works—and Navy Pier—in a new light!

 

Current Art On Display At Navy Pier

Optik

OPTIK: SEASONAL ART INSTALLATION

Optik is an interactive installation that reflects on our ability to play with our surroundings while giving the opportunity for brand new point of views on our daily environment. It provides a unique platform for users to manipulate at free will how they want to see the world.

Through movement and reflection of light, each colorful unit encourages the public to engage with another unit and other people within the space, sparking spontaneous interactions and helping everyone’s true color shine through.

flyboy

Hebru Brantley’s Iconic ‘Flyboy’

Titled The Great Debate, this 16-foot 'flyboy', stands at the South Dock entrance of the Chicago Children’s Museum door of the Pier. Created by Hebru Brantley, a world-renowned Chicago artist known for his iconic characters, Flyboy and Little Mama. The statue looks upward and southward in a heroic stance summoning all to contemplate the notion of dreaming the impossible.

Reach Statue

"Reach" by Chris Daze Ellis

New York City creative Chris Daze Ellis remains one of the few artists of his generation to make the successful transition from painting NYC subway cars to the studio. His numerous notable exhibitions are recognized internationally. On loan from ART WITH ME, this sensational sculpture — "Reach" can be found in Pier Park near the carousel now through April 2023.

Barry Butler Flow

Flow - Water Brings Life To Chicago

World-renowned photographer Barry Butler’s 22-image exhibit is a celebration of many of the views of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, and Buckingham Fountain. Whether you live in Chicago or are a tourist in the Windy City, you will find that water brings life to Chicago. From the Chicago Air & Water Show to the Fireworks at Navy Pier to taking a tour of the River or the Lake via one of the cruise ships, water is the main thread involved in the entertainment. Visit this breathtaking exhibit now through December 2023.

Permanent Installations

The Meet Me at the P statue in Polk Bros Park

Meet Me at the "P"

The Polk family—siblings Sol, Morris, Goldie, Sam, David and Harry—changed the course of American retail, the face of Chicago’s neighborhoods, and the everyday lives of Chicago’s working families. The Meet Me at the "P" sculpture at Navy Pier, designed by Kym Abrams, commemorates their impact and celebrates the changes they made.

The Bob Newhart statue at Navy Pier, by Lake Michigan

Bob Newhart Statue

Created by Studio EIS in New York, this life-sized Bob Newhart statue was commissioned by nostalgia cable channel TV Land and unveiled to the City of Chicago on July 27, 2004 by the company’s president Larry W. Jones. In November 2004, the statue was moved to Navy Pier. The statue was designed for guest participation and is best enjoyed by interacting with the famous TV psychologist Bob Hartley in bronze.

A young girl wearing a pirate hat stands next to the Captain on the Helm statue at Navy Pier

Captain on the Helm

The Captain On The Helm bronze statue is located just south the Navy Pier entrance. The statue was a gift from the Chicago Lodge of Shipmasters International and sculpted by Michael Martino. Dedicated on May 19, 2000, the plaque acknowledges: "To those courageous mariners who guided their ships through perilous waters, carrying cargo and people. Their contributions have been so much a part of our history. May they never be forgotten." The statue has engraved brickwork with the names of many legendary Captains and contributors to the project.

The Crack the Whip public art installation at Navy Pier

Crack the Whip

Created by world-renowned sculptor J. Seward Johnson, Jr., Crack the Whip was installed at Navy Pier in 1996. This whimsical depiction of eight children at play shows them holding hands and running in a semi-circle. A girl on one end appears to be falling down but is held up by the support of the others, who all lean back. Another girl has lost her shoe.

USS Chicago Anchor

U.S.S. Chicago Anchor

This 8-ton anchor installed on Navy Pier in 1995 was from the U.S.S. Chicago, the third ship to bear the name Chicago. Funded by the citizens of Chicago and completed in 1945, U.S.S. Chicago was classified as a heavy cruiser and later converted to a guided missile cruiser. She saw action in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and received several commendations before she was dismantled in 1984. In August 2012, former sailors who served aboard the U.S.S. Chicago came to the Pier to restore the ship’s anchor back to its original color.

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About Navy Pier

Navy Pier is the People’s Pier, Chicago’s lakefront treasure, welcoming all and offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through partnerships and programs that inspire discovery and wonder.

Since its reopening in 1995, more than 180 million guests have come to enjoy the Pier's 50 acres of unparalleled attractions and experiences. In 2022, Navy Pier continues to evolve into an accessible, year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures.


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Navy Pier

600 E. GRAND AVENUE
CHICAGOIL 60611
1-800 595-PIER (7437)

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