It took about 200 gallons of paint, 2,000 light bulbs and 11 days of hard work, but the John G. Shedd Aquarium is a bit more kid friendly and a lot more clean, sporting better washrooms and some new exhibits featuring popular amphibians and marine animals—all in time for the Shedd’s 75th anniversary.
Almost $1 million went into cleaning and sprucing up the popular Chicago attraction at 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr. Shedd President Ted Beattie says the 11-day shutdown in early January allowed staff to do everything from shine the brass on the front door and remodel the bathrooms to clean the coral in the tanks and replace the moss in the oceanarium.
The building last underwent this kind of deep cleaning six years ago.
Among the more kid-friendly renovations are:
n The temporary “Seahorses and Seadragons” will become permanent with large tanks that extend to floor level making the exhibits a place for curious kids to explore. “Kids can walk right up to them and get face-to-face with a fish without parents having to pick them up,” says Roger Germann, Shedd public relations director. “We’re actually working on lowering all of the windows, so kids have a better view.”
n More and lower interactives in the new permanent frog exhibit, such as pushing a bright red button, that starts the mating sound of different kinds of frogs.
Technologically savvy kids can teach their parents how to navigate the new displays.
n The cafeteria has more seating and more room for strollers to maneuver.
n All bathrooms have diaper-changing stations now.
n Tots on Tuesdays, a program for toddlers, will move to the new exhibit areas.
n Birthday parties are new, too. For about $550 for nonmembers, 10 kids and five adults get a private party room with crafts, games, “Otto the Sea Otter,” a cake, pizza as well as special seating and recognition during the oceanarium show.
Another new exhibit is dedicated to iguanas and features the Shedd’s two Cayman blue iguanas, which officials hope will breed. “They’re some of the most endangered in the world,” says Germann.
The Shedd is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends. Admission is $23 for adults, $16 for seniors and children ages 3-11. It is free on Mondays and Tuesdays through the end of February, although to visit the oceanarium and the Wild Reef exhibit, it still costs $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and children.
Kate Houlihan, Medill News Service