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"Jellies" at Chicago's John G. Shedd Aquarium

After seeing the commercial for it nearly 100 times, the mesmerizing visuals and trance-inducing music finally drew me to the “Jellies” exhibit at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.

The last time I was at Shedd, it must have been the late 80′s. I don’t remember much, but it doesn’t matter because when I set foot in there this week I felt like I was the same age I was back then (I couldn’t have been more than 12 years old). I spent just as much time staring, wide-eyed and mouth open, as I did taking pictures of the 1500 different species of wildlife they have on display. It was such a pleasure to spend hours walking around the exhibits — they are extremely well maintained, clean, and colorful, and that’s before you even see the animals inside. Being a native Chicagoan I have been to a few less than stellar “museums” but Shedd is not one of those. The staff, presenters, and trainers are friendly, and although it costs nearly $35 for a standard admission, it is easy to see where the money goes if you pay attention to what’s going on around you. They have an outstanding array of marine life on display, not to mention some monkeys, poisonous frogs, a dwarf caiman, a great restaurant (Soundings), a few gift shops that actually didn’t offend me with pricing, and a live-show pool area featuring real trainers, dolphins, beluga whales, and one hilarious sea lion.

The “Jellies” jellyfish exhibit, although small, was one of my favorite parts. I don’t know if it’s temporary or what, but it would be great to have on display for the long term. It is easy to lose track of time staring at these glowing, translucent, undulating pods with no recognizable parts, so the relatively small size of the exhibit does not negatively affect the experience.

I don’t think museums such as the Shedd can maintain such a degree of wonder if they are visited too frequently, but I hope to cut the gap between my visits significantly now that I have seen all that it has to offer. For out-of-towners, I think the Shedd Aquarium is a must visit.

Full set available here.