DOWNTOWN — Many Chicago homes have flat-screen TVs in their living rooms — and as of Monday, the city itself has one, too.
Millennium Park Inc., the nonprofit that funds the 9-year-old Downtown tourist attraction, unveiled Monday a new feature officials call "The Screen:" a 40-by-22½-foot LED screen no more than a few inches thick at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage.
"'The Screen,' 'The Bean,' it all kind of makes sense to us," said Donna LaPietra, chairwoman of Millennium Park. "We hope that ultimately the screen will become able to stand big shoulder to big shoulder with all our other iconic features here in the park."
The VideoBlades technology behind the screen is less than 2 years old and was developed by Lighthouse Technologies. It allows for a high-quality, high-definition picture on a thin, pliable surface. The whole screen consists of four panels that roll up "like a window shade," according to Ed Uhlir, executive director of Millennium Park Inc.
"The four screen units can quickly be set up, fitted together and taken down in approximately two hours for each movie," Uhlir said. "This quick turnaround was essential for the Pritzker Pavilion because we occasionally have as many as three separate performances in one day. VideoBlade system is currently the only LED screen that meets this requirement for quick turnaround."
The screen features 12.5 pixels per inch and adjustable brightness, and costs $550,000. Millennium Park Inc. footed that bill, and the group also will cover the cost of maintaining it.
Chicagoans can get a first glimpse of the screen in action Monday night, when it will be used to project the onstage performances of Daniel Lanois and Brokeback. On Tuesday it will be used for the first time during this summer's free movie series. Tuesday's "Chicago" screening kicks off at 6:30 p.m., and all subsequent weekly screenings will start at 7:30 p.m.
LaPietra said having a high-tech screen at the pavilion has been a goal of Millennium Park's founders since it opened in 2004 — and added that getting it up and operational before celebrating the 10-year anniversary next year makes the unveiling that much more exciting.
"It was very important to us by our 10th anniversary to have a visual augmentation to the experience that people had in Millennium Park," she said.
The Millennium Park screen "is designed to truly enhance the cultural and entertainment experience of a visit to Millennium Park," she said, and will allow for two-way broadcasting of live performances to the park from anywhere in the world and broadcasting events from the park around the globe.