Op Ed

Public Museum Hasn’t Moved Yet

We’re just getting started with the plan to improve MPM – and welcome your input.

By - Mar 11th, 2020 01:05 pm
Milwaukee Public Museum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Public Museum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

It’s a rare opportunity in life when we have a chance to make a difference for generations to come. I was given that chance when I joined the Milwaukee Public Museum to head up an effort that will shape how one of Milwaukee’s most beloved institutions interacts with the next generation. As Chief Planning Officer, I’m tasked with advancing the museum’s effort to build a 21st century museum of nature and culture for the people of Milwaukee and Wisconsin. Since joining the team, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: Wisconsin loves MPM. So many of us have fond memories of visiting MPM throughout our entire lifetimes; being awed by the dinosaurs, curious about beetles and delighted by the butterflies. It’s important that we find a way to honor and build upon MPM’s past, while ensuring that we provide an incredible experience for future generations.

The museum needs a new home, and that’s not up for debate. Continuing to operate in our current county-owned building is no longer viable and is a threat to the future of the museum and the four million objects in our care. While our current home might be suitable to serve other functions, the state of the building jeopardizes our accreditation, which is required to host traveling exhibits like Spiders! and Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed. It is also necessary for federal grant and research dollars, which support MPM’s groundbreaking scientific discoveries and achievements.

Our pursuit of a new home has received a lot of attention throughout the community – a testament, again, to the importance of this institution. That coverage has, in many cases, led individuals to believe we’re further along in the process than we actually are. While a new museum has made headlines and we are pursuing it with great focus and attention, we don’t know what it will look like yet. We are committed to MPM’s legacy of an object-based and immersive experience, but we don’t know which objects and artifacts will be on display or how exhibits will be designed. The intentional, careful process to determine these details is just beginning, and it will include statewide community input. MPM is Wisconsin’s Natural History Museum, and as stakeholders in our future, Wisconsin residents should and will be invited to participate.

We have an incredible opportunity to inspire a new generation of museum-goers and lovers of learning and I personally believe we are up to the challenge. Will you join us? Learn more at http://www.mpm.edu/future and sign up to receive our MPM newsletters.

Conceptual Designs For a New Museum

Katie Sanders is Chief Planning Officer at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

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