Shedd Aquarium Has Announced A $500 Million Renovation Plan Involving A 40-Foot Underwater Glass Tunnel

Elliot McGowan Elliot McGowan

Shedd Aquarium Has Announced A $500 Million Renovation Plan Involving A 40-Foot Underwater Glass Tunnel

Chicago’s beloved Shedd Aquarium has shared a new vision for the future which would see $500 million in investment expand and improve the aquarium over the next 8 years.

For the last nine decades, Shedd Aquarium has provided over 200 million visitors with countless one-of-a-kind experiences up close and personal with marine life. Guests of all ages have been treated to inspiring moments face to face with an extraordinary array of more than 25,000 aquatic entities ranging from kaleidoscopic fish to curious beluga whales.

Now, after a tumultuous couple of years with closures and mercurial mitigation measures, Shedd Aquarium has now announced a transformational ‘Centennial Commitment’.

With the aquarium’s 100th anniversary in 2030, it is launching a $500 million 8 year project that will “prepare Shedd for the next 100 years, transforming the aquarium’s historic galleries, accelerating aquatic science and research, and equitably expanding access to nature for all.”

A Centennial Commitment page recently created on the aquarium’s website reads “as we look toward our 100th anniversary in 2030, Shedd Aquarium is embarking on an  audacious, energizing and urgent undertaking —a transformational Centennial Commitment that accelerates access and connection to nature for all and amplifies ways to care, conserve and act to ensure an equitable, sustainable, and thriving future for people and aquatic life.”

Rendering of the arapaima exhibit expansion courtesy of Shedd Aquarium

The plan, described as “a bold surge forward that leverages nearly a century of success”, contains several objectives including deeper community investments and partnerships, new educational and experiential programs, a modernized aquarium experience, and compelling digital engagements.

The aquarium will use $500 million in investments over 8 years which will fund the transformation and restoration of galleries and exhibits providing greater, more dynamic, and more accessible entry points to see and connect with aquatic life.

Learning commons rendering courtesy of Shedd Aquarium


Learning commons rendering 2 courtesy of Shedd Aquarium

The four-phase construction project is set to begin later this year and aims to conclude in 2026 with many new galleries, programs, and experiences that will open each year building up to the aquarium centenary year in 2030.

In addition to more immersive and science-rich galleries, improved facilities for the animals, a state-of-the-art Science Hub, and an expansive new experiential hub and curiosity incubator there will be four acres of new and reinvigorated green space around the building.

Tunnel rendering courtesy of Shedd Aquarium

The headline news for many, however, will likely be the installation of a 40-foot-long glass tunnel that will immerse visitors in the rich, bustling community of an expansive new Caribbean coral reef habitat.

Located at the heart of the fully renovated North Gallery,  the new habitat and glass tunnel will offer exciting new views allowing guests to enjoy “entirely different perspectives of swimming sharks, gliding rays, and a multitude of colorful reef fishes” all of which will showcase the breathtaking biodiversity of reef ecosystems.

We will continue to reveal more on the Shedd Aquarium’s evolution as the information becomes available to us but for now, more details can be found at Sheddaquarium.org/centennial-commitment.

[All images courtesy of Shedd Aquarium]

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