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Frank Gehry designed open-air stage of the Millennium Park in Chicago. Publicity photo

Baroque art definitely surprises an unprepared person with its sublime history, yet I doubt it’s possible to relate baroque artwork to our modern-day experience of life.

The fact that the city of Chicago, and particularly its downtown area, embodies visual culture doesn’t mean, of course, that all the objects there instigate us or even wish to instigate us to a deeper contemplation of art. I’m no expert, but it seems to me that Kapoor is not the greatest contemporary sculptor—Anthony Caro, for example, may be better. But Kapoor seems at least just as valuable as Léger or Miro, whose sculptures are considered modernist classics and can be viewed in the Art Institute of Chicago. Perhaps what’s essential is that looking at Kapoor’s sculpture in a public space encourages us to go visit these art institutions.

The Art Institute of Chicago houses works of art from the Middle Ages to the present day. The collection of impressionist works, the largest outside of France, is particularly renowned. At the world’s large museums, you rarely see a permanent exposition that doesn’t just exhibit “big” names, like Warhol or Van Gogh, but also displays an effort to make the collection conceptually united and to create an experience in art education. In this sense, the Art Institute of Chicago is a wonderful exception, because it truly seems that the curators’ intention in selecting the works of art was to educate the viewer.

I have gotten the impression that downtown Chicago strives to educate its visitors and spur them on to something more. From Millennium Park you will probably head to the Art Institute of Chicago. And from the Art Institute it’s not far to the remarkable concert hall of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The concert hall is just three minutes away from the public library, which paves the shortest way to the city’s excellent universities, including the University of Chicago with its eighty-five (!) Nobel laureates. I, of course, don’t want to assert that a visit to Chicago will bring you closer to a Nobel Prize, but it’s clear that an environment has been created here that stimulates our development and encourages us to educate ourselves.

The contemporary architecture and artwork in downtown Chicago didn’t come about accidentally. Rather, they reflect very determined and purposeful investments. The positive effects I mentioned before may seem doubtful, if you have to convince a skeptic.

For instance, a journalist could ask, “Do the hundreds of millions invested by the city and donors in building Millennium Park and the cultural buildings really pay back?”