Chicago's Marilyn Tops List of Bad Public Art

Maybe she needs to be seen with one's own eyes to truly be appreciated.

Chicago's 26-foot tall statue of Marilyn Monroe may be a huge tourist attraction, but pegged the likeness of the starlet as the worst piece of public art in the world.

The website gave two reasons for leading their list with the Seward Johnson piece. VirtualTourist didn't like the fact that The Seven Year Itch, from where the iconic pose came, was based in New York City. And they took issue that the towering, blown dress forced many to peer up at Marilyn's panties.

But NBC Chicago on Wednesday couldn't find a single passerby that agreed with the site's ranking.

"It's nice because everybody comes here... It's beautiful. I like it," said one woman.

"I've seen far uglier pieces work. I like that. I like it very much," said another.

"I think because the dress is lifted up it attracts people to come see it. It's fun. It can be bad in their -- how they see it, but for people it's fun and interesting," a young man said.

"Everyone's a critic," said another. "It's OK. It's not hurting anyone. It's beautiful."

And sure, while Monroe doesn't have a home town story in Chicago (sorry, Monroe Street was named after the nation's fifth president, not the actress), that doesn't seem to bother those who stopped at Pioneer Court Plaza and looked up at the movie star.

"This is iconic. We've all seen it. We all know it. Every Halloween there's a gazillion women who dress up like Marilyn and do exactly that same pose," pointed out Renee from Brookfield.

To be fair, criticism lobbed at the art when it was unveiled last month was as harsh at the VirtualTourist's. The Chicago Tribune's Mary Schmich called the art "bad taste -- on such a large scale."  Her colleague at the Tribune-owned website called the Johnson piece "downright creepy and sexist."

And just this past weekend, someone tagged Monroe's right leg with graffiti as she stood in the asphalt jungle.

"Forever Marilyn," as the statue is officially known, wasn't the only Chicago-based piece of public art to make's list. "Monument With Standing Beast," outside the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop, came in at No. 9.

"This ten-tonne behemoth is said to represent an animal, a portal, a tree, and an architectural form, but to some it just represents bad taste," the site's editors wrote.

See the full list of the Top 10 Places With Bad Public Art at

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