Proposal to merge Milwaukee Public Museum with Mitchell Park Domes stirs interest

Milwaukee Public Museum

MILWAUKEE -- A stroll through the "Streets of Old Milwaukee" exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum, straight into the "Desert" at the Mitchell Park Domes could soon be possible. Some county leaders want to merge both attractions.

It's been about two decades since Larry Stadlar last strolled through the Milwaukee Public Museum.

"The prices are outrageous. I mean, we are county taxpayers," said Stadlar.

"Having them locate very close -- if not next to the Domes, and the Domes also could use some new energy," said Milwaukee County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic.

Marina Dimitrijevic

County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic presented the bold proposal to the county's Finance and Audit Committee. A study to explore the idea passed unanimously.

"What I want at the end of this is bigger, bolder, better," Dimitrijevic said. "Something that is the most unique, powerful experience that people have in Milwaukee."

Dimitrijevic sees potential for synergy between the two facilities, especially when it comes to educational opportunities.

Mitchell Park Domes

"Who hasn't seen the 'dinosaurs' or the 'rainforest' in the public museum? Well, we also have a real live -- basically -- rainforst in the Domes," said Dimitrijevic.

Bringing the museum  to Mitchell Park could also solve two existing problems: the museum is in the midst of exploring site possibilities and completing the planning process to move into a new facility. And the Domes are badly in need of repairs, which could cost up to $95 million.

Dimitrijevic believes the combined facilities could generate more money than they do now, and selling the current MPM site could help offset costs.

As to what those costs may be...

"Of course there is a cost, but again I think there is a return on the investment," said Dimitrijevic.

We should learn more about how much this will cost once the study is complete. The study itself will be part of the 2019 budget. There is a public hearing on Monday, Oct. 29 where you can weigh in on the proposal.

Dimitrijevic issued the following statement on this matter:

"Locating the new Milwaukee Public Museum in Mitchell Park creates a tremendous opportunity for establishing a new world-class cultural site with multiple amenities in the south side of  Milwaukee. There is awesome potential in aligning the work of the horticultural conservatory with the Milwaukee Public Museum and locating both in one of the south side's greatest parks. We can preserve the mission of the Mitchell Park Domes by partnering with the museum to provide educational programming while delivering a stronger, bolder experience to our residents and visitors. The positive possibilities of this proposed relationship are endless."

The Milwaukee Public Museum is still exploring partnership opportunities, site possibilities and completing the planning process.

Earlier this year, the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) released concepts of what a new museum could be in the city.

The visionary architectural concepts for the future museum building were created by local firm Rinka Chung Architects (video above — pictures in gallery just below).


Additionally, Milwaukee firm Zimmerman Architectural Studios used MPM as a case study for their design teams to create several concepts on sites of their own choosing, one of which is being released (just below).


As MPM moves forward with identifying a site for the new museum, additional architectural concepts will be released later in 2018.