Cloud Gate: A Fun interactive Sculpture

Photo by Gyorgy Bakos on Unsplash

Cloud Gate, the immense mirrored sculpture is the major point of attraction of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park, Chicago. The designer of this fun sculpture is Indian-born artist, Anish Kapoor. It is the world’s largest permanent interactive art installation. The art structure initially named “Bean” by the public because of its shape is made up of huge no. of stainless steel plates. These plates are welded together with no visible juncture. The artist found the name ‘Bean” to be stupid and later named it the “Cloud Gate”.

Inspired by liquid mercury with a mirror-like surface, the winning entry of a design competition reflects the city’s skyline. It distorts the reflected image making it more interesting due to its elliptical shape. Visitors are able to walk around the Cloud Gate in Chicago and also underneath The distorted images, beautiful reflections of surroundings give the public an amazing experience. Thus, gained a lot of attention across the globe.

The sculpture’s construction was started in 2004 and completed on May 15, 2006.

Photo by Antonio Gabola on Unsplash


  • The masterpiece is 33 x 66 x 42 feet (10 x 20 x 13 M) in size and weighs 99,790 Kg. The sculpture’s weight was a matter of concern as estimating the thickness of the steel required for this artwork before the fabrication was difficult. The Cloud Gate Chicago was originally expected to weigh around 54,430 Kg but the final output was almost twice this.
  • With a beautiful 12 foot high Arch entrance, the sculpture acts as a gate for the visitors to see what’s inside this marvellous creation.
  • Inside of the sculpture, the Omphalos (Greek word for navel) is a concave chamber that wraps and makes multiple reflections of any subject beneath it. Its apex is 27 feet (8.2 M) above the ground. However, it’s really hard to understand where the reflection of the subject ends and sculpture starts when you look up standing under the Omphalus.

The size is too big for a sculpture but the smaller wouldn’t have made it such a huge success. 

Photo by Alex Powell from Pexels


  • Inside of this polished exterior shell is made up of several steel structures. It keeps the sculpture standing on two points at the base making it look like a bean. The structure started with two “type 304 stainless steel rings” and continued with crisscrossing pipe trusses that were assembled between the two rings.
  • The trusses and supporting structures only lasted until the construction phase. After the finish, there were no inner bracings.
  • The supporting structural components and the frame were designed to test the load and to check if any temperature fluctuations affect. In the internal surface, the stainless steel skin was attached with flexible connectors that allow it to expand and shrink as per the weather conditions.
  • The outer shell was started after the completion of the interior components. It consists of 168 stainless steel plates, each 10mm thick and 1000 to 2000 pounds in weight.
  • Computer technology was used to cut these massive stainless steel plates into perfect shapes. Thereafter, they were welded together, leaving no joints behind.
  • The total cost for this huge sculpture reached $23 million.
Photo by Lance Anderson on Unsplash


The sculpture stands to be the essential photo opportunity and a destination for the tourists more than an artwork. Its stainless steel skin reflects the lights, surrounding city skyline, green spaces from the park and the activities happening around. The Bean in Chicago invites visitors to touch and interact with the sculpture. It also gives a variety of perspectives to the tourists of their images. It becomes a source of fun for the visitors as it distorts their reflection. All this attracts them to definitely make a stop here for some entertainment. The sculpture is also known as an adult version of the funhouse mirror.

The Bean Chicago is no less than magic and is definitely not the one to be missed.

When the light is just perfect it’s hard to find out where the sculpture ends and the sky begins. Hence, the art acts as a passageway that takes you closer to the sky giving you a heavenly pleasure.