Museum of Modern Ice at Millennium Park

Ice Wall


On a recent Saturday night, my friends Heddie and Bob found themselves in Millennium Park surrounded by the boldly colored, abstract paintings in ice by Canadian artist Gordon Halloran, the centerpiece of a new winter celebration in Millennium Park, Museum of Modern Ice,  (February 1-29, 2008). They loved the colors in the ice paintings the light on the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion.  It was a pleasant antidote to the winter blahs.


This is the U.S. debut of Halloran’s innovative work, Paintings Below Zero, which incorporates a brilliantly colored ice wall – 95 feet long and nearly 12 feet tall – into Millennium Park’s dramatic art and architecture. It is situated on Chase Promenade behind Cloud Gate, and is the artist’s largest and most spectacular installation to date. Halloran has also embedded an abstract ice painting within the Park’s McCormick Tribune Ice Rink that allows visitors to skate on its multicolored surface. The installation and ice rink are available for all to enjoy free of charge from 6 am to 11 pm.


Museum of Modern Ice is presented by Canadian National (CN), North America’s Railroad; the Chicago Office of Tourism, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs; and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Tourism. Other supporters are American Express, Chase, Dominick’s, Lifeway Foods, Hard Rock Hotel Chicago, American Airlines, I-Go Car Sharing, and Argo Tea. “CN is pleased to be a presenting sponsor of Paintings Below Zero during the Museum of Modern Ice celebration and to support Canadian artist Gordon Halloran’s work, which has been internationally acclaimed,” said E. Hunter Harrison, President and Chief Executive Officer, CN. “Our partnership with the City of Chicago is particularly gratifying because Chicago is a critical center in our North American rail operations and home to approximately 1600 employees.”

In addition, programs such as ice games, hands-on art projects, and dancing are in place to encourage the public to celebrate this winter season. The Chicago Cultural Center across from Millennium Park is the Hot Spot for residents and visitors to warm up and enjoy weekend cooking demonstrations, knitting and crafting activities, music concerts, film screenings, and cabaret performances. To complete the ice theme, the Café at the Cultural Center will offer a special menu of ice-inspired snacks and hot drinks.


“Chicago is well-known for offering rich cultural resources and Gordon Halloran’s groundbreaking work supports our long-standing commitment to bringing world-class art to this city,” said Mayor Richard M. Daley. “Chicago is proud to be the first city in the United States to present Paintings Below Zero which is a must-see exhibition for both residents and visitors this winter.”


Artist Gordon Halloran had a successful career as a magazine illustrator and an internationally exhibited painter before turning to ice.  He began working with ice as a child in rural Ontario, creating colorful backyard ice rinks.  His series, Paintings Below Zero has created public events around the world where ice rinks become community spaces in which everyone can experience the joy of art. Working in ice, a natural material, means constant change so each day is different.


Come to the free weekend family activities offered at the American Express Heated Tent, adjacent to the ice wall. Step on to the very crowded ice rink that my friends observed and experience the feeling of colors beneath you as you skate. For more information about Museum of Modern Ice, visit www.millenniumpark.org.


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