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'Underwater Beauty' Special Exhibit at Shedd Aquarium to Close April 2023

Last Chance for Guests to Experience the Aquarium's Most Diverse Special Exhibit

March 01, 2023

A man holds up a young boy so that he can peer into the top of a large well-lit habitat in Underwater Beauty, Shedd's new special exhibit.

Shedd Aquarium’s award-winning special exhibit Underwater Beauty, which has brought guests closer to the stunning and surprising spectrum of beauty within the aquatic animal world, is set to close on April 17, 2023. Presented by Citadel, Underwater Beauty is the most diverse special exhibit in Shedd’s history, featuring over 1,000 animals representing 100 species from across the globe. The closure of the special exhibit will enable the start of construction at Shedd and the first of many renovations and modernizations planned for the building as part of Shedd Aquarium’s Centennial Commitment.

“Together, we’ve celebrated the diverse and vibrant beauty of aquatic life of all different shapes, colors and sizes,” said Keoki Burton, assistant director of animal care and sustainability at Shedd Aquarium. “When guests visit the exhibit for the last time, we hope there is even greater compassion and appreciation for the beauty beneath the waves and motivation to conserve and protect our waterways.”

Since opening in 2018, there are now several new additions to the space that guests should explore during their next visit like the hypnotic undulating vibrant colors of flamboyant cuttlefish, now fully-grown ribbon eels that transformed from black to unique distinct colors, aquatic plants thriving in underwater environments surrounded by schooling fish and much more. Guests can also virtually engage with the exhibit by watching a live camera to discover dreamlike patterns of angelfishes, wrasses, tangs and butterflyfishes, listening to an audio guide to dive deeper into the world of jellies, or utilizing interactive classroom programs for kids to learn why and how these animals look and act the way they do.

A tiny cuttlefish "stands" on two tentacles, lifting up its tentacles on a pebbled substrate.

Created fully in-house by Shedd Aquarium, Underwater Beauty is unique in its focus of showcasing living art shaped by the unmatched forces of nature and time. Unlike other exhibits at the aquarium focused on a specific class of animals or native region, this diverse special exhibit focuses on shimmer, color, pattern and rhythm. Each section astounds the senses and showcases a unique feature or form of beauty under the water’s surface. It lends itself to discovery around animal adaptations like how corals reflect beautiful colors of light to help them thrive and grow, an inky-black spot on the tail of the four-eyed butterflyfish can deceive predators and seahorses use their long tail to anchor and sway. These answers and more live at Shedd.

As Underwater Beauty prepares for its closure, the space will eventually transform as part of Shedd’s Centennial Commitment to a laboratory space that will enable innovative conservation and science within the aquarium and beyond its four walls. In addition, this will include a departure from special exhibits at the aquarium and instead focus on more immersive, hands-on experiences throughout the building that make every visit unique for guests. However, guests can still come face-to-face with many of their favorite animals from Underwater Beauty as they move to new homes throughout the aquarium in the coming months.

Access to Underwater Beauty, Shedd’s special exhibit, is included in admission. General admission at the aquarium includes access to all aquarium exhibits, as well as the opportunity to attend Animal Spotlights throughout the day in the Abbott Oceanarium.

VISUALS: High resolution photos and video are available for download:
Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez
Video credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin