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The north lion at the Art Institute of Chicago wearing a helmet in support of Chicago Blackhawks,

Art Institute of Chicago's helmeted lions for Blackhawks

by Abby Theodros
June 12, 2013


Photo Credit: Chicago Scenic Studious

Chicago Scenic Studious is responsible for designing sportswear for some of the Chicago's most famous sculptures.


Google Maps, Abby Theodros/ MEDILL

Chicago landmarks where you can find Scenic Studio's sports wear for Chicago icons. A.)The Art Institute of Chicago B.) The Field Museum C.) Chicago Picasso

The iconic bronze sculpted lions at the Art Institute of Chicago are joining the rest of the city in support of the Chicago Blackhawks as they were adorned with the National Hockey League team’s gear, Wednesday morning.

The Art Institute coordinated the reveal to match up with the first Stanley Cup finals game between the hometown team and the Boston Bruins.
The last time the lions were dressed in the team’s gear was during their last stint in the Stanley Cup in 2010.
“We don’t like to jinx anything so we waited to put the helmets on until their spot in the finals was secured,” said Erin Hogan, public affairs director of the Art Institute.
Although the helmets were last used three seasons ago, when the Blackhawks won the Cup in 2010, the Art Institute and the Blackhawks franchise were prepared for the installation since late last week.
Chicago Scenic Studios, the group responsible for the Picasso sculpture downtown and the Blackhawks jersey-wearing brachiosaurus at the Field Museum, also designed the helmets for the lions.
“This is fun for us … and the helmet design was fairly quick,” said Tom Ryan, design manager. “We went through a series of concept sketches but actually putting it together took the time … in terms of fabrications, it's a couple week process.”
While a Reebok NHL extra-large helmet is a size 7 5/8-8, the lions’ helmet is an estimated size 37.

“It was initially a 3-foot diameter hemisphere because that’s what fits on the north lion’s head,” said project manager, Gary Heitz.
Because the south lion is a little smaller, the carpenters cut material from the 3-feet diameter initially sized for the north lion.
“If you think of a Weber grill, it’s about that size,” said Ryan.
Scenic Studios also makes the helmets a bit larger than necessary in order to make space for padding underneath that is designed to protect the statue.
“In addition to making the helmets look accurate, we don’t want any discoloring or scratches,” said Heitz.
The apparel is kept in storage until a team makes the playoffs—that’s when Scenic Studios gets the call to dust off the equipment.

“The entire city celebrates when we do something like this … our goal is to instill a sense of solidarity and city support for a championship team,” said Hogan.