You are aware there are two bronze lions that guard the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago, yes?
They've stood as a symbol of the museum and the city since 1894. The sculptures were created by Edward Kemeys and donated as a gift to the museum by Mrs. Henry Field as a memorial to her late husband.
On our most recent visit to the museum, I stopped to ask the information desk volunteer two very simple questions - questions that I thought weren't crazy. But apparently I was wrong.
First, I asked if the lions had names. The answer I was given was a blank stare.
Well, a blank stare and a "Lions" leaflet.
Turns out the lion on the north side of the steps (on the left) was described as on the prowl by Kemeys. Meanwhile, he said the south side lion (on the right) stands in an attitude of defiance. According to the leaflet, these are the Lions' only names. Mystery solved.
The second question I asked was in reference to the Lions' urban legend. I've heard that to keep drunk (or not drunk) tourists from climbing on the Lions' backs, there is a weight sensor that triggers a loud, "ROAR!"
When I asked if this was true, the volunteer just laughed and condescendingly replied, "No, no, no."
So, there you have it. Now you have both answers. AND you don't have to ask or face the, "What a silly question," looks that I got.
Plus, now that I know that the coast is clear, I'm seriously considering adding a picture of myself on a lion's back to my Ultimate To DO list. What do you think?