Magnet is based on a black and white photo of one of the majestic bronze lions in front of the western, Michigan Avenue entrance to the Art Institute in Chicago. The lions were designed by Edward Kerney in 1893 and were originally located at the Palace of Fine Arts at the Columbian Exposition Worlds Fair. When the fair closed in 1894 they were moved to the Art Institute.
The lions were a gift from the widow of Marshall Field's younger brother, Henry. Henry Field was one of the first members of the Chicago Art Institute's Board of Trustees and is credited with assembling the Institute's collection of 19th century French painting. In addition to the lions, his widow donated a large collection of oil paintings from their home, together with a gallery featuring an art glass ceiling produced by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
For over a hundred years Kerney's lion sculptures have been the Windy City's special pets.