The Bean Reveals All
By Scott Smith in News on Aug 19, 2005 2:51PM
Chicago tourists and residents have been waiting patiently for The Bean to finish its summer-long striptease and come Monday, they’ll finally get to see the goods.
On Monday, the sculpture known as Cloud Gate in the brochures (and as The Bean to pretty much everybody else) will begin a slow unveiling that will be completed on August 28th. The shiny centerpiece of Millennium Park has spent most of the summer under wraps as workers have buffed out its metallic seams. Unfortunately, there’s still more to be done despite the cost and time overruns on the project. The general counsel of Millennium Park summed up the situation this way: "We are overjoyed at giving birth, but we're a long time in labor.” We like a good metaphor as much as the next person but the scaffolding and the tenting make the whole process seem less like labor and more like putting the baby back in the uterus for a couple more months.
Both the sides and top of The Bean now match artist Anish Kapoor’s vision. Some additional buffing will be accomplished in the winter on the part of the sculpture that’s proved to be most vexing to Millennium Park officials: the underbelly of The Bean or the “omphalos.” We’re so jealous. We haven’t had our omphalos buffed since college.
But Chicagoist, you ask, what IS an omphalos? Well you see, Internet, the word omphalos comes from the ancient Greeks. The omphalos (a word whose literal translation is “navel”) was an oval-shaped religious artifact at Delphi in the center of the temple of Apollo. It was believed that the omphalos allowed for direct communication with the gods.
With this etymology in mind, we finally understand why Mayor Daley has yet to commit to a future run for mayor: he’s waiting to clean up the city’s belly button so he can get the go-ahead from Zeus! Oddly enough, this is the exact explanation given to us by the crazy guy outside our building who claims he was once Secretary of the Interior for President Gerald Ford.