Fifteen new benches will be coming to downtown Naperville this summer, but these seating options also will double as art.
The benches are designed to look like open books and will be painted soon with settings from stories or summer scenes.
The "book benches" are the latest in a series of sculptures temporarily installed by the Downtown Naperville Alliance and sponsored by Naperville businesses as a decorative addition to the shopping environment.
Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, says businesses are picking up the unpainted book benches through Friday so artists can doctor them up before Father's Day. The benches then will be displayed -- for respectful sitting use and viewing pleasure -- until mid-September.
Wood said she got the book bench idea from similar sculptures she saw in London. She thought they would be perfect for the annual artistic display she organizes in Naperville.
"We always like to choose sculptures that people can participate with," she said.
In recent years, the alliance has installed summer sculptures including classic coupes or convertibles and bucket chairs shaped like hollowed-out golf balls or baseballs. Before switching to summer, the group set out winter sculptures including snowmen, gingerbread cookies and trains.
The sculpture program is the rebirth of a tradition that ran for eight years in the 2000s, when a United Way branch in Naperville held an auction of statues displayed each summer including giraffes, dragons and bears.
After the United Way office left town, the downtown alliance restarted the sculpture program, but did away with the auction.
Once this year's sculptures are taken down, they will become the property of the businesses who sponsored them. Wood said many businesses give them away or donate them to fundraisers hosted by charities including Little Friends, the Edward Foundation and the Naperville Education Foundation.