Kris Nesbitt

Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer at Chicago History Museum

Kris Nesbitt

Kris Nesbitt

Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer at Chicago History Museum

Biography

Kris Nesbitt oversees the development and execution of exhibits at the world’s aquarium. Through eye-catching and thought-provoking storytelling, Nesbitt furthers Shedd’s mission of sparking compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world through her expertise in exhibit development.

Nesbitt began her career with Shedd in 1997 as an exhibit developer, combining her passion for creativity, storytelling and culture. In this position she helped create the aquarium’s beloved Amazon Rising exhibit and was instrumental in the reimagination of Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium, including aiding in the creation of the kid-centric Polar Play Zone. She also contributed to the creation of Jellies, Shedd’s wildly popular special exhibit, and conceptualized the organic garden displays and interpretation that surround the building.

In her current role as director of exhibits, she has helped in the creation of the At Home on the Great Lakes gallery and in the refresh of the Amazon Risingexhibit. During her time at the Shedd Aquarium, Nesbitt also received two American Alliance of Museums Excellence in Label Writing awards for her work in the Polar Play Zone and Jellies exhibits.

Nesbitt has worked as a consultant and contractor with a variety of museums and cultural institutions, including the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Chicago History Museum and Morton Arboretum. She has authored two children’s books: Sokita Celebrates the New Year, winner of the National Association for Multicultural Education, and My Amazon River Day, an Independent Publisher award finalist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, as well as a Masters of Arts in Folklore from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Nesbitt also taught writing at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey for a year as a Fulbright Fellow. During her free time, Nesbitt enjoys travel, visiting museums, zoos and aquariums, and sewing.

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President at Chicago History Museum

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Vice President, Finance & Chief Financial Officer at Chicago History Museum

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Director, Exhibitions at Chicago History Museum

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Chief Executive Officer, Shedd Aquarium at Gulf of Maine Research Institute

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President & Chief Executive Officer at Shedd Aquarium Society

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Mayor at Chicago Office of the Mayor, Lori Lightfoot

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President & Managing Partner at Pritzker Private Capital

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Chief Historian & Director of the Studs Terkel Center for Oral History-Curatorial Affairs at Chicago History Museum

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Director-Print & Multimedia Publications at Chicago History Museum

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Coordinator-Special Events at Chicago History Museum

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Kris Nesbitt
Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer at Chicago History Museum
Career History
Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer
Current

The Chicago History Museum (CHM) is the city’s oldest cultural institution. Founded in 1856 and incorporated in 1857 by an act of the state legislature, the Chicago Historical Society and its collection grew and opened its first building at the corner of Dearborn and Ontario Streets. That building and the most of the collection, however, burned during the Great Fire of 1871. After three years and a second fire that destroyed most of the remaining collection, the Society renewed its operations. Occupying temporary buildings on the same site until 1896, the organization built a massive stone edifice designed by Henry Ives Cobb, which housed the Gilpin Library and exhibition spaces. In 1920, the Society purchased thousands of manuscripts and hundreds of paintings and historical artifacts from the estate of Charles F. Gunther, including the bed on which Abraham Lincoln died and George Washington’s compass. In the late 1920s, the trustees began planning a new $1 million museum to house its growing collection and to celebrate the city’s centennial. Designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, the Georgian colonial building opened in 1932 in Lincoln Park at Clark Street at North Avenue. That building, with various additions, renovations, and improvements, has served as the organization's home ever since. In 1972, the Society unveiled a modern limestone addition by Alfred Shaw and Associates. In 1988, Holabird and Root "wrapped" the limestone addition in a red brick modern adaptation of the 1932 building and added underground storage and new gallery spaces. In February 2006, the Chicago Historical Society announced its new name: The Chicago History Museum. After renovating approximately 75 percent of its public space, the Museum now features a dramatic new lobby as well as new galleries and exhibitions and a redesigned Museum Store.

Senior Director of Exhibits & Experience Development
1997 - ?

Shedd Aquarium (formally the John G. Shedd Aquarium) is an indoor public aquarium in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. Opened on May 30, 1930, the 5,000,000 US gal (19,000,000 l; 4,200,000 imp gal) aquarium was for some time the largest indoor facility in the world. Today it holds some 32,000 animals. Shedd Aquarium was the first inland aquarium with a permanent saltwater fish collection. It is located on Lake Michigan, on the Museum Campus Chicago, along with the Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum of Natural History. In 2015, the aquarium had 2.02 million visitors. It was the most visited aquarium in the U.S. in 2005, and in 2007, it surpassed the Field Museum as the most popular cultural attraction in Chicago. The aquarium contains 1,500 species, including fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, and insects. The aquarium received awards for "best exhibit" from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for Seahorse Symphony in 1999, Amazon Rising in 2001, and Wild Reef in 2004. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Other Affiliations

Kris Nesbitt is affiliated with Chicago History Museum, Shedd Aquarium Society

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