Jeramey Jannene

Public Museum Will Host Town Hall About Proposed New Home

Virtual event design to share survey results, solicit additional feedback.

By - Nov 9th, 2022 05:38 pm
Rendering of new museum viewed from the west side of N. 6th St. Rendering by Kahler Slater.

Rendering of new museum viewed from the west side of N. 6th St. Rendering by Kahler Slater.

The leaders of the Milwaukee Public Museum will present the organization’s plan for a new home, preview results from a survey on future exhibits and facility design and answer questions at a Nov. 16 event.

The virtual, town-hall-style event will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. The event will be hosted by museum CEO Ellen Censky and chief planning officer Katie Sanders.

“Input from our visitors and community members has been a critical component in the Future Museum planning process as we envision a new space that sparks curiosity and facilitates a valuable museum experience,” said Censky in a statement. “The town hall will provide the public with an overview of our progress, an opportunity to pose questions and weigh in on the project’s next steps and a reason to get excited for what’s ahead.”

The nonprofit is pursuing a new $240 million natural history museum at the corner of N. 6th St. and W. McKinley Ave. Demolition work began in June and the organization unveiled a conceptual exterior design in July for a five-story, 200,000-square-foot facility. It would replace the museum’s existing home at 800 W. Wells St.

The nonprofit hopes to break ground on the project in late 2023 and open the facility in 2026. The organization still needs to complete a fundraising campaign as well as secure zoning approval from the Common Council.

MPM is now in the public phase of its $150 million private fundraising campaign. As of June, $85 million of the expected $90 million contribution from public entities has been secured, including $45 million from Milwaukee County and $40 million from the state. MPM hopes to also secure a federal grant to finalize the public contribution. The project cost includes moving the existing collections as well as building an endowment. The organization is expected to be renamed as part of the new facility.

The new building will contain exhibit space, visitor services, a cafe and retail store, underground parking, collections research and storage, classrooms, an auditorium, event venue space, offices, a small workshop for exhibit maintenance and back-of-house spaces. The current museum, 800 W. Wells St., will continue to operate until the new museum opens.

The new facility is being designed by Kahler SlaterEnnead Architects and Thinc Design. A partnership of Mortenson Construction and ALLCON will lead the general contracting.

MPM has been pursuing the new facility for more than five years. Its current facility, built in the 1960s, is “falling apart” according to the museum, including a leaking roof and bursting pipes.

“Many parts of the building, including the 1960s escalators and elevators — which are not adequately sized to handle current visitor demand for modern-day strollers and personal mobility devices — break down and are costly and difficult to repair,” says the organization’s new museum page. “The structure itself was originally constructed without insulation or moisture barriers, resulting in decades of humidity and temperature control issues that jeopardize the collections and result in significant utilities expenses.”

Advance registration is required. Questions can be submitted in advance by emailing


If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

One thought on “Public Museum Will Host Town Hall About Proposed New Home”

  1. exlibris says:

    The design is very cool. Bravo, MPM!

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us