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Public Art & Exhibitions

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.

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Public Art & Historical Points of Interest

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 commemorates their impact and celebrates the changes they made.

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Meet me at the “P” is an aluminum statue designed by Kym Abrams and dedicated to the lasting change from the Polk family.

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. From 1935 to 1992, the Polk Bros chain of appliance and furniture stores put luxury and convenience within reach, offering discounted prices on essential household goods and strengthening the economic base on which vibrant communities depend. In the process, what began as a single store in Portage Park, opened by the sons of Eastern European immigrants, became a Chicago institution: a vital fixture in 17 neighborhoods and the most successful Chicago retailer that never opened a store downtown.

Bob Newhart Statue

Designed for visitor participation, lie on the couch and pour out your troubles to bronze Bob Hartley, the 1970s psychologist from The Bob Newhart Show.

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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 visitor participation and is best enjoyed by interacting with the famous tv psychologist Bob Hartley in bronze.

Captain On The Helm

The Captain of the Helm statue, dedicated in 2000, commemorates the bravest mariners and celebrates their contributions to our city and its history.

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The Captain On The Helm bronze statue is located just south of the entrance to Navy Pier. 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.” In front of the statue is engraved brickwork with the names of many legendary Captains as well as other contributors to the project.

Crack the Whip

Join in on the fun and pose with the children in the life-like Crack the Whip bronze sculpture!

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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.

U.S.S. Chicago Anchor

This 8-ton anchor comes from the U.S.S. Chicago and was installed at Navy Pier in 1995. The U.S.S. Chicago, which was funded by the citizens of Chicago and completed in 1945, saw action from several wars in the 20th century and received several commendations for her service.

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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 and reconnected through social media, came to the Pier to restore the ship’s anchor back to its original color.

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