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Shedd Aquarium rendering
Courtesy Shedd Aquarium in collaboration with Thinc/Valerio Dewalt Train

A glass tunnel is part of Shedd Aquarium’s $500 million renovation

A new education hub, updated animal habitats and the restoration of skyline views are also components of the eight-year project.

Zach Long
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Zach Long
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The Shedd Aquarium will get some major upgrades over the next eight years, including a 40-foot glass tunnel that will allow visitors to be surrounded by aquatic life swimming through water. Today, the local institution unveiled its Centennial Commitment, a $500 million project and strategic vision that will see expansion of the Shedd's educational and research programs as well as improvements to its building and facilities.

More than half of the $500 million investment will be used to advance partnerships within Chicago, develop programming that can travel outside of the aquarium and fund research that addresses the biggest threats to aquatic life in a rapidly-changing (and warming) world. To make sure that folks who can't visit the Shedd have access to the institution's collection and learnings, virtual experiences and informal learning engagements that can take place outside of the aquarium will be a major focus.

The remaining funding will be used to modernize the Shedd Aquarium's facilities, building on previous investments in the Abbott Oceanarium as well as the "Wild Reef" and "Amazon Rising" exhibitions. That includes the aforementioned 40-foot aquarium tunnel—according to a report from Crain's, the tunnel will connect the main Shedd building to the Abbott Oceanarium. Other additions to the institution include the restoration of skyline views (by removing obstructions to original windows) and a new Learning Commons area, creating a dedicated space for visitors and school groups to take part in learning experiences during their visit. Behind the scenes, the Shedd will expand its animal care facilities and upgrade the ecosystems and habitats that provide homes for the aquarium's resident wildlife.

Other upgrades include a new entry pavilion that will include automated ticket and security scanning, making visitors' journey into the aquarium faster and easier. Outside of the institution, the Shedd will invest in four acres of green space, creating outdoor environments that can be used for education while simultaneously making the lakefront more beautiful. The interior renovations are scheduled to begin later in 2022 and are scheduled to be completed by 2026. According to Shedd leadership, the aquarium will remain open to the public throughout the entire renovation process.

Check out the renderings below for a peek at what the souped-up Shedd Aquarium might look like and take a look at the institutions complete Centennial Commitment for a detailed rundown of the eight-year plan.

Shedd Aquarium rendering
Courtesy Shedd Aquarium in collaboration with Valerio Dewalt Train/Visualized Concepts
Shedd Aquarium rendering
Courtesy Shedd Aquarium in collaboration with Thinc/Visualized Concepts/Valerio Dewalt Train

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