Memo to Chicago Park-Goers: It’s Public Art, Not a Jungle Gym

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Chicago’s Millennium Park is being besieged by sculpture-climbing ruffians, the Chicago Tribune reports (via ARTINFO). The latest casualty? Ben van Berkel’s centennial pavilion, which opened just three months ago and is already being closed for repairs. The Tribune puts on its best frustrated mom voice and asserts that the sculpture has incited Lord of the Flies-esque pandemonium. Skateboarders leaving track marks! Grown men and women climbing to the top! “The pavilion had to be shut down lest anybody fall off and crack a skull,” the article notes. Meanwhile, an art historian/voice of reason chimed in.

“Why is this a surprise to anybody?” said Harriet F. Senie, an art history professor at City College in New York and the author of several books on public art. “The first thing people do with public art is they climb on it.”

After the structure is repaired, there are plans for increased security, and possibly signage. Does that include round-the-clock security guards? If so, we salute this inventive use of public money. Our stimulus package: creating stuff for Americans to guard, one public art project at a time.