Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Harley-Davidson Breaks Ground On Museum Expansion

New venue replaces seasonal tent

By - Jul 15th, 2021 08:36 pm
Groundbreaking ceremony for the new The Garage event venue at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Groundbreaking ceremony for the new The Garage event venue at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Harley-Davidson Museum is growing.

The motorcycle manufacturer ceremonially broke ground Thursday afternoon on a new event space for its 20-acre museum campus, 400 W. Canal St.

The event had a distinctly Harley twist: a stunt driver on the company’s new Pan America 1250 bike interrupted the proceedings. That included popping wheelies as Chris Nelson, director of museum experience, feigned disbelief and later driving across the dirt pile as dignitaries stood ready to make a ceremonial dirt toss.

The new, one-story venue will replace Chrome, a seasonal tent structure used for formal events. It will be built at the southern end of the campus, with views of the South Menomonee Canal and Menomonee River.

“This new event space is really more to us than a new building,” said museum director of operations Aimee Wiedmeyer. She said it was a sign of optimism in both the museum and Harley-Davidson. “This is really a vote of confidence for us in our collective future.”

Known as The Garage, it will add 8,200 square feet of event space to the complex.

It also marks the end of the current The Garage venue, located on the northwest corner of the complex. That 9,294-square-foot, 1,000-guest space will no longer be used for events, but the museum has not announced a new use for the former venue.

The museum opened in 2008 at the eastern end of the Menomonee Valley.

A number of event spaces are already available at the complex, including Motor Bar & Restaurant, the 440-guest, second-story Rumble and a series of smaller spaces. The motorcycle company operates the venues in a partnership with Levy Restaurants known as 1903 Events.

Thursday’s groundbreaking spilled right into another event, the weekly bike night series with live music. As dignitaries tossed dirt, Harley riders rolled up on their hogs just out of earshot.

The new building is scheduled to open next spring. Morton Buildings is serving as the design-build contractor, with HGA providing design support.

The tent-to-building model follows a similar path that Discovery World pursued when it added a new structure to the north of its lakefront building. A 10,000-square-foot addition replaced a long-standing tent in 2018.

new, stand-alone event venue building is planned for the Historic Third Ward by Black Swan Enterprises.


Renderings and Site Plan

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