Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Museums: Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium Light Shedd Aquarium

I think the last time I visited an aquarium was in the 90s, when the Newport Aquarium near Cincinnati was brand new. When we lived here in Chicago we visited the Field Museum frequently and the Planetarium a few times on the community days for locals, but never made it to the Shedd Aquarium. The special exhibit right now is all about Jellyfish. I was particularly interested in seeing this exhibit after seeing a few types of jellies beached on the Oregon Coast this year. 

Jellies Pink FIsh

My favorite jellyfish of the exhibit were the blue blubbers from Australia, but they were very fast moving and difficult to photography. The Shedd has a video of them in action, which gives you an idea of the great colors they come in, dark and light blue, tan, white, and brown.  Much more camera friendly were the white spotted jellyfish, pictured above.

Crown of Thorns Starfish Garden Eels

Other fascinating creatures in the permanent exhibits included the Crown of Thorns Starfish, which have been known to destroy reefs with their stomach acid. I really thought the Garden Eels were cute, but when I brought my mom over to look at them she found them creepy. I have to admit they do remind me of the "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from the Little Mermaid. Of course there were lots of types of sting ray and the large, "living fossil" fish were interesting. The Arapaima was the largest. The varied textures, particularly its face, were very unusual.

Shedd Aquarium Ceiling Shedd Aquarium Light

The aquatic theme pervades all of the detailing of the 1929 building. This includes waves and fish on the exterior, light fixtures throughout the building, and fish squares on the doors and ceiling. It's a late beaux arts style building executed by a post-Burnham Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. It's very similar to the other buildings on the museum campus, like the Field, which was designed by Daniel Burnham. The museum campus is a great place to go for some of the best views of the city, but only if you can stand to be in one of the windiest and coldest parts of town, right out on Lake Michigan. I only got a few shots, one looking north and one looking south, before I had to keep moving toward the museum to stay warm. The waves are getting very high right now, and it looks way too cold out there, but Chicago is a gorgeous city.

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