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Art Institute Lions Being Removed For Cleaning, But Don’t Worry — They’ll Be Back

A big crane will take the legendary lions away on June 14 so they can "preserve them for generations to come," according to the Art Institute.

One of the lion statues at the Art Institute of Chicago before masks were hung up on the statues early Thursday morning on April 30, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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DOWNTOWN — The two bronze lions outside the Art Institute of Chicago have long been the pride of the city, but Chicago’s great protectors will soon be missing from their thrones.

Both lions will be picked up by a crane and removed for maintenance 9 a.m. Tuesday outside the Art Institute, 111 S. Michigan Ave.

A truck will take them away for treatment by trusted conservators, according to a press release from the museum. They’ll be returned when the work is complete in about a month, said Shannon Palmer, the museum’s assistant director of public affairs.

The lion’s grooming process includes a steam cleaning and a fresh layer of wax coating.

The sculptures were made in 1893 by Edward Kemeys and “require expert care to preserve them for generations to come,” according to the Art Institute.

The lions were also taken down for maintenance in 2001.

The lions are often dressed up to mark important Chicago moments. They wore Bears helmets after the 1985 Super Bowl, Chicago Sky uniforms after the team’s recent championship and wore masks after the onset of COVID-19.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A person runs by the lion statue wearing a mask outside of the Art Institute of Chicago on April 30, 2020. Starting May 1, Illinois residents are required to wear face masks in public when social distancing is not an option.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A lion outside the Art Institute dons Chicago Sky jersey during the rally to celebrate the Chicago Sky’s first ever WNBA Championship, on Oct. 19, 2021.
A lion rocks a Bears helmet after the team won the Super Bowl in 1985.