Milwaukee Public Museum unveils renderings for new building

After years of talk, we are finally getting a look at what the new Milwaukee Public Museum could look like. In conjunction with a fundraising campaign kickoff, architect partners at Ennead Architects and Kahler Slater unveiled renderings of the new museum building on Monday, July 18.

The new museum is slated to be developed at the corner of 6th and Vliet streets in Milwaukee's Haymarket neighborhood. That is adjacent to the city’s Deer District. The cost of the project – an estimated $240 million.

Milwaukee Public Museum unveils renderings for new building

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.

Milwaukee Public Museum unveils renderings for new building

"We estimate that in its first decade, the new museum will welcome more than 5.5 million visitors – including 1.5 million school children," said Ellen Censky, Milwaukee Public Museum President and CEO.

"The largest cultural project in the state’s history," said Lafayette Crump, Milwaukee's Department of City Development Commissioner.

Milwaukee Public Museum unveils renderings for new building; rooftop garden

Designers say the building draws inspiration from Wisconsin's natural landmarks – and Milwaukee's three rivers.

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The Milwaukee Public Museum has been part of Milwaukee for 140 years. Leaders say its current home – built in the 1960s – is beyond renovation.  The museum hopes its new location will act as a gateway to downtown – if they can pay for it.

Milwaukee Public Museum unveils renderings for new building

 "This four year campaign is to raise $130 million to allow us to open the museum in 2026," said Jay Williams, Wisconsin Wonders campaign co-chair.

$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.

Milwaukee Public Museum unveils renderings for new building

The generosity of several key donors has set a strong foundation for the capital campaign, including:

  • Anonymous donors
  • JoAnn & Richard Beightol
  • Lynn & Douglas Brengel
  • Bucyrus Foundation
  • Melitta S. & Joan M. Pick Charitable Trust
  • David & Julia Uihlein
  • We Energies Foundation

The museum houses four million objects and specimens preserving out area's natural and cultural past. 

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"It’s about the generational impact that we can make together – for Milwaukee, Wisconsin and frankly, for the world," Censky said.

News conference on new museum building