Milwaukee Public Museum unveils renderings for new building

NOW: Milwaukee Public Museum unveils renderings for new building

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Public Museum, along with Ennead Architects and Kahler Slater on Monday, July 18, unveiled renderings of the new museum building. 

The new location will be 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.”


The Milwaukee Public Museum says the design of the new space will be reminiscent of the geological formations in Mill Bluff State Park, emblematic of the region’s diversity of landscapes formed by the movements of water through time. The convergence of Milwaukee’s three rivers — the Milwaukee, Kinnickinnic and Menomonee — inspire the museum’s interior commons, with entrances welcoming visitors into a dynamic gathering space.

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.

Primarily a concrete and glass structure, the museum's exterior texture will mimic the ancient sea stacks present in Mill Bluff State Park. The building itself is designed as an organic form, with rounded corners portraying the erosion and weathering that happens as landscapes — particularly Wisconsin landscapes, which were in large part shaped by glacial forces — evolve over time.

According to a news release, MPM is nearly halfway to their fundraising goal with $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.

Groundbreaking for the new building is slated for late 2023. 

Share this article: