Governor Pat Quinn was on hand as the Shedd kicked off the first phase of the institution's clean-energy initiative.
The more than 900 panel project is the biggest solar panel installation at any cultural institution in the state.
"We wanted to have something that we could show the whole world, that we here in Illinois understand what it is to have renewable energy from the sun and from the wind. Also, how important it is to have to have energy efficiency," Quinn said.
The Shedd says it hopes to cut its energy consumption by half by 2020.
The transformation would make the aquarium the nation's first clean energy-powered cultural institution.