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Public Art & Features
The Chicago Women's Park and Gardens and Field House are home to some of Chicago's most unique public art pieces for all of the city
to enjoy.  Here is a hightlight of the most formost pieces in the collection: 

Jane Addams Tribute Sculpture Garden, "Helping Hands” 
by Louis Bourgeois


The Chicago Park District team completed the relocation of the Jane Addams group of sculptures, known as “Helping Hands” by Louise Bourgeois, to
Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens on June 24th, 2011

 Sculpture Hand Detail

 Dedication Photos from September 24th event

  Dedication Photos from September 24th event

In May through June of 2011, the Chicago Park District installed a relatively small, but extremely significant monument in the park in homage to Jane Addams (1860 – 1935), Chicago’s famous social reformer and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Internationally renowned artist Louise Bourgeios (1911 – 2010) created the artwork, which was first dedicated on the city’s lakefront in 1996. The sculpture was commissioned by the B.F. Ferguson Fund of the Art Institute of Chicago. Representatives of the Art Institute selected Bourgeios because they knew that the surrealist artist would portray Jane Addams through a symbolically powerful artwork rather than a depictive figurative sculpture. Bourgeios produced a series of carved granite hands that sit on rough-hewn granite bases. The monument, which is also known as “Helping Hands,” recognizes the humanity of Addams’ efforts, as well as the large number of people she helped.
Speaking about her work in a 2007 PBS Documentary film entitled “From Art in the 21stCentury” Louise Bourgeois said, “A work of art does not have to be explained… If you do not have any feeling about this, I cannot explain it to you. If this doesn’t touch you, I have failed.”
The work entails six rough hewn stone bases which each support a hand or series of carved black granite hands representing a broad range of people of different ages and backgrounds. The current installation reflects the artist’s original arrangement of the sculptures and their positions.
Describing the significance of the artist and her approach to this project, Michael Darling, a Chief Curator at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art explains:
Louise Bourgeois is one of the most important and influential artists of the 20thand 21stcentury, primarily because she has addressed central aspects of the human condition in her work. Channeling the issues raised during her tumultuous childhood, she has focused her work on ideas about inter-personal communication, nurturing, alienation, belonging, motherhood, sensuality, birth and death, among many other themes. This sculpture is an excellent example of how she suggests these concepts in a truly universal form—through the motif of the human hand.”

The Plaque that accompanies the sculptures reads: :

SOCIAL PHILOSOPHER - Jane Adams envisioned a peaceful world community based on cooperation, mutual understanding, and acceptance of differences.
PRAGMATIST - She advocated the participation of all citizen in the creation of a just and democratic social order.
WRITER - She authored eleven books and hundreds of articles.
LECTURER - A compelling Public Speaker, she drew upon her experiences at Hull-House as a touchstone for larger social concerns.
DEFENDER - Committed to civil liberty, she deplored violence, stressed compassion and multicultural understanding, and promoted a vision that valued life over death and liberty over coercion.
MEMORIAL - This first monument in Chicago to a women is dedicated to Jane Addams and the many she served.

Each Hand Carving Symbolizes a Story - Comforting, helping, strong in solidarity, the hands recall Addams's words: "Perhaps nothing is so fraught with the significance as the human hand...."  Each smooth granite carving on a rough granate pedistal depicts different images of humankind -
'gentle baby, vulnerable child, able adult, aging parent'.
Gift of the B.F. Ferguson Fund of The Art Institute of Chicago, established in 1902 to honor great figures or evens in American history

For more Photos of the sculpture garden go to
September 24th, 2011 Redication Video:

September 24th, 2011 Redication Story: 
Chicago Architecture Blog

Video of the Sculpture from 1996:

About Louis Bourgeois:
Louise Bourgeois on Art21 Blog

Additonal Background on the Sculpture:
Chicago Reader 2005 - That's Now Way to Treat a Lady


FAMOUS CHICAGO WOMEN EXHIBIT - Field House (added in 2017)

Chicago Women’s Park & Gardens honors the many local women throughout history who have made important contributions to the city, nation, and the world.

This collection includes artwork in the Field House Lobby showcasing some of the great in Chicago's History, in addition to a large window film mural on the Indiana Avenue side of the field house.  The collection & accompanying brochure  contain brief introductions to 65 great Chicago women—only a fraction of the many female Chicagoans who could be added to this list.  The collection encourages patrons and young students to pursue additional information and encourage additional programs & interaction. 

For an electronic copy of the brochure:  





Landscape architect Mimi McKay and architect Tannys Langdon designed Chicago Women’s Park and Garden in 1999. The park was intended as a place to recognize the contributions of Chicago women as well as a respite spot for the residents and visitors to the area.

The park’s centerpiece is a fountain that was produced by Robinson Iron Corporation. Entitled the Botanical Gardens Fountain, it has a shallow copper-coated cast iron urn that gently drips water into a lower basin. Robinson Iron also created the Children’s Fountain in Lincoln Park, the Gurgoyle Fountain in Wicker Park, and another version of the Botanical Gardens Fountain in Mariano Park.


For the Birds: An Amazing Exhibition of Bird Houses was displayed from June 15th through October 15th, 2004 was exhibitied in Chicago Women's Park and Gardens outside the Clarke House Museum - Chicago's oldest house, from 1836 - at 1827 South Indiana.  Over 100 birdhouses were featured, including an unmistakable entry by honorary Chicagoan Frank Gehry, the man who helped design many of Millennium Park’s features. The free exhibition, was sponsored by the NSCDA (National Society of the Colonial Dames of America). While only a few of the bird houses were left in the park, a sample of the past Bird Houses on Exhibit in 2004:


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