Sculptures of a humpback whale mother and her calf, donated by Shedd Aquarium, greet people entering the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, which opened June 9. Shedd was 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 Shedd’s 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.
The traditionally numbered ER exam rooms also are identified with a photo of an animal, creating a 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.
“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 to the children who will be cared for there.
Guest Blogger: Karen Furnweger is the editor and content manager at Shedd Aquarium and a member of the AZA’s CONNECT magazine editorial board.