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Art Institute's lions get new twist on traditional wreaths

The Art Institute of Chicago's famous lions will get their usual holidays wreaths, but with a contemporary twist.

Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, the bronze lions outside the museum traditionally get wreaths made of evergreens and ribbon. This year, they're getting wreaths that are solar-powered. They're made up of 2,011 red balls inside clear plastic spheres.

They're the creation of Materious, the Chicago-based husband-and-wife design team of Bruce and Stephanie Tharp.

"It has kind of a bubbly-shiny look, it's a little, almost a little like caviar in a way," Bruce Tharp said. "There's also some solar-powered lighting there, so in the evening, they should glow."

Tharp said they were inspired by North American cranberry wreaths, as well as Buddhist and Taoist wishing trees. Inside each ball, there's a wish for the world in 2011 written by Chicago school kids. Those wishes range from an end to war to flying cars. Tharp hopes those wishes inspire other people to reflect and come up with their own dreams for the world.

Last year, the famous industrial designer, Yves Béhar, was the vision behind the wreaths. That new take on the traditional wreath was successful enough, the Art Institute sought another contemporary design this year.

The ceremony to lay the wreaths is at 10 a.m., Nov. 26.

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