Chicago Moped Tours

2. The Lions at the Art Institute of Chicago

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The second stop on The Original Chicago Moped Tours is the Lions outside the Art Institute of Chicago – On Michigan Avenue – downtown Chicago.

The Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879 as both a museum and school, first stood on the southwest corner of State and Monroe Streets. It opened on its present site at Michigan Avenue and Adams Street in 1893. Built on rubble from the 1871 Chicago fire, the museum housed a collection of plaster casts and had a visionary purpose: to acquire and exhibit art of all kinds and to conduct programs of education. The collection now encompasses more than 5,000 years of human expression from cultures around the world, and the school's graduate program is continually ranked as one of the best in the country. Within the next decade, a new complex will continue this process of growth.

The two bronze lions that flank the Michigan Avenue entrance were made for the Art Institute's opening at its current location in 1893. They were a gift from Mrs. Henry Field. They have unofficial "names," which were given by their sculptor Edward Kemeys that are more like designations. You'll notice that the lions are not identical, and thus are named for their poses: The south lion "stands in an attitude of defiance," while the north lion is "on the prowl."