John Graves Shedd was a leader and philanthropist who left his mark on the great city of Chicago. Shedd rose though the ranks from store clerk to president of Marshall Field and Company.
Having great pride for his city, Shedd dreamed of Chicago having the finest aquarium in the country. With his initial donation of $2 million in 1924, the nonprofit organization Shedd Aquarium Society was formed “to construct, maintain, and operate an aquarium or museum of aquatic life exclusively for educational and scientific purposes.”
Shedd passed away during the planning process in 1926. The board of directors carried on, opening the John G. Shedd Aquarium to the public on May 30, 1930.
“The World’s Aquarium” has welcomed visitors from around the world for 89 years. Dedicated to public education, conservation, and sustainability, the Shedd is committed to the research and care of species worldwide.
On May 18, the Shedd Aquarium Society’s Board of Trustees hosted its black tie gala, Reflections. Co-Chairs Hilary and Lloyd Semple and Honorary Chair Marian Phelps Pawlick led this year’s festivities.
Nearly 631 Chicago philanthropists gathered at the Shedd Aquarium for the silver jubilee anniversary fête. The evening raised nearly $2 million in support of Shedd’s mission of sparking conservation, curiosity, and compassion for the aquatic world.
“This is more than just a fundraiser; it’s a celebration of our founder’s inspired vision to bring the world to Chicago, married with today’s vision of a world thriving with aquatic life, sustained by people who love, understand, and protect it,” said Dr. Bridget Coughlin, Shedd president and CEO.
Immersed in a world of sea life, guests were set free to discover the great depths of the aquatic exploratorium. Popular destinations of the evening included the Wild Reef; the newest exhibit, Underwater Beauty, presented by Citadel; the dance floor with music from True Blue Band; and the jazz lounge with the William Boris Trio.
Guests enjoyed a special aquatic presentation of “Tomorrow Starts Tonight,” featuring California sea lions, Pacific white-sided dolphins, green-winged macaws, and more. Local music group Musicality kicked off the show followed by remarks from Dr. Coughlin and the Semples.
A successful paddle raise auction followed in support of the Shedd’s marine and freshwater research, and animal rescue and accessibility efforts around the world.
Attendees then filtered to the main galleries to enjoy an ocean-themed, sustainably sourced meal, donated in part by Sodexo.
Emily Stone earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work has been published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.