Thursday, September 21, 2023

Milwaukee Public Museum moves forward with plans for new building

Nearly half the $240 million goal raised to support a building inspired by Wisconsin’s diverse cultures and ecosystems and ongoing sustainability of institution

Reaching another milestone, Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) has kicked off the public phase of its ‘Wisconsin Wonders’ fundraising campaign aimed at enabling the construction of a new Museum in Milwaukee. In conjunction with the campaign kickoff, architect partners at Ennead Architects and Kahler Slater today unveiled renderings of the new museum building. To be located on a 2.4 acre development at the corner of Sixth and Vliet Streets in the Haymarket neighborhood adjacent to the city’s Deer District, the new museum will be the largest cultural project in Wisconsin history.

“Our community has the privilege and opportunity to reimagine what this beloved institution can be and further our mission to inspire curiosity and knowledge of our world’s natural and cultural diversity,” said MPM President and CEO Dr. Ellen Censky. “While it is thrilling to see what the future may hold, it is also of the utmost importance to remember why we have undertaken such a titanic effort. A new museum building is the only way to ensure the continuity of this institution and the safety of its collections for the enjoyment of future generations. Through the Wisconsin Wonders campaign, our community can sustain a place of experiential learning and cultural importance.”

$110 million has already been dedicated to the creation of the new museum, including $40 million from the State of Wisconsin, $45 million from Milwaukee County, and $25 million in private donations by 72 cornerstone donors.

The new building was designed by Ennead Architects and Kahler Slater, as an architectural homages to natural environments and the intentional gathering places that will bring diverse groups of people together to commune, to learn and to educate one another.

Katie Sanders, MPM Chief Planning Officer describes the future museum, “Different from most creative processes, this design was developed as a result of input from thousands of people from both far corners of Wisconsin and right here in the Haymarket neighborhood, paired with inspiration drawn from a tour of the entire state.”

The building will be approximately 200,000 square feet, including five stories; the first floor will house an open museum commons atrium where visitors and the public can gather and bask in natural light from a sunlit lightwell; the four upper levels of exhibit space — which are currently in the schematic design phase led by Thinc Design — will be offset from neighboring floors in the museum’s collections storage lobe, allowing visitors to peek into and preview different exhibit floors and collections that are not part of specific exhibits or dioramas. The new museum will also include two gardens designed by GGN, located near the entrance to the museum and on the rooftop, providing an opportunity to bring native plants back into Milwaukee’s urban environment. Offsite, a separate 50,000 square foot storage space will house additional collections.

Groundbreaking for the building is slated for late 2023, with Mortenson and ALLCON overseeing construction, and the new museum is due to open in 2026. The Milwaukee Public Museum’s current home will remain open until the new space is finished.

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