Sculptures of humpback whale and calf decorate the ceiling of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of ChicagoSculptures of a humpback whale mother and her calf, donated by Shedd Aquarium, greet people entering the new Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, which opened today. Shedd is proud to be among 23 civic institutions asked to donate art and staff time to help decorate the new hospital, which replaces Children’s Memorial Hospital. The lifelike half-scale fiberglass figures by Victor Joyner, which are suspended from the lobby ceiling, originally graced the restaurant area of the Oceanarium.

Shedd also had the honor of creating the colorful aquatic décor that flows through the second-floor emergency care center. Fifty large-scale photos of aquarium residents, printed on stretched canvas, enliven the walls of waiting areas and exam rooms. Shedd’s designers, who donated hundreds of hours of work during the two-year project, were sensitive to what might appear threatening, so they  chose pictures of beautiful schooling fishes, a beluga mom and calf, seahorses and always-popular penguins.

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago's ER roomsThe traditionally numbered ER exam rooms also are identified with a photo of an animal, creating a more kid-friendly beluga room, a sea star room, etc. Inside, the same animal appears in one of the large-format photos. Along with wall decorations, photos of animals, set on illustrated backgrounds, were printed on ceiling tiles, and three different tiles were installed above the beds in each of the ER’s 40 exam rooms. These images provide conversation starters—how many fishes? can you find the penguin?—to help nurses to engage and redirect a young patient’s attention during a procedure.

(The designers’ responsibilities included making sure that the surfaces of both the printed tiles and the canvas photos could withstand routine washing with disinfectants.)

Image of a Discovery Box“Discovery boxes”—recessed 3-D tableaux of animal photos on simple habitat illustrations set at toddler height in each nursing station desk—were designed to encourage counting activities for young children and their parents.

Other artwork provided by Shedd includes animal photos in the elevators, a large, pastel mural of a coral reef in a waiting room and a mural with an ocean theme in each of the three triage rooms. Finally, a “path of discovery”—a continuous band of photos of Shedd’s animals—runs along a wall.

Shedd is proud to have made this contribution to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago—and the children who will be cared for there.

Karen Furnweger, web editor