Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Museum Unveils Details of First New Exhibit

Featuring dinosaurs, mammoths, saber-toothed cats and 122,000 Silurian fossils.

By - Mar 7th, 2023 10:52 am
The Mesozoic Hall - Torosaur Clash. Image courtesy of the Milwaukee Public Museum.

The Mesozoic Hall – Torosaur Clash. Image courtesy of the Milwaukee Public Museum.

The non-profit operator of the Milwaukee Public Museum, MPM Inc., unveiled some of the details Monday for one of the five permanent galleries that will be at the future museum.

The “Time Travel” Gallery, as it will be called, will feature several of the popular pre-historic items and exhibits in the current museum. It will be arranged into three exhibit halls named for three geological time periods: The Paleozoic Hall, The Mesozoic Hall and The Cenozoic Hall.

“The future museum will take some of the iconic exhibit elements from the current museum and reimagine them to present new scientific information and new ways of learning,” said Ellen Censky, MPM president and CEO.

The new $240 million museum is planned for the northeast corner of N. 6th St. and W. McKinley Ave. Plans for the facility show a five-story, 200,000-square-foot museum designed to resemble the Mill Bluff in Wisconsin’s Mill Bluff State Park, with a floor plan based on the three rivers that make up the Milwaukee Estuary (Milwaukee, Kinnickinnic, Menomonee). It’s expected that the museum will be built by 2026.

The new museum is being designed by Thinc Design, a New York-based agency. Oronde Wright, the senior designer from Thinc leading the museum project, told the press at a preview of the new gallery Tuesday that the meandering pathways and immersive exhibits of the current museum, at 800 W. Wells St., are being incorporated as design elements in the future museum.

We want to make sure the stories we’re telling are object focused, just like this current museum,” Wright said. “We’re taking the objects we have and figuring out what the stories we have around them, and finding tasteful ways of layering technologies, like projection.”

When the current museum opened in the 1960’s exhibits were added to the museum over time, Censky noted. “When we open the future museum, it’s important for visitors to have a full experience right away.”

The next of the five permanent galleries will be unveiled on March 23. Called “The Wisconsin Journey gallery,” it will be “focused on the geological wonders and strong and varied cultures of Wisconsin – from the Driftless Area to the Northwoods, the Apostle Islands, the Great Lakes and Wisconsin’s vast prairielands.”

The Paleozoic Hall

This section of the “Time Travel” gallery will feature “exhibits that investigate the unique planetary conditions that supported evolving life between 540 and 250 million years ago,” according to a description provided by the museum.

This includes the popular Silurian Reef, an exhibit built upon research of Wisconsin’s geologic past. The exhibit will be redesigned to make visitors feel like they are “submerged in the tranquil, shallow waters of the Silurian seas,” the museum said. The exhibit will include the 122,000 Silurian fossils the museum has in its collection.

This hall will also be home to the Cambrian Trackway, a fossil that “is one of the earliest pieces of evidence demonstrating how and when animal species moved from land to water — and for years, it has been sitting in the basement of MPM with no place to be put on permanent display,” Censky said.

The Mesozoic Hall

This section will be the museum’s dinosaur exhibit and it will redesign some of the current museum’s most popular items, like the Torosaur skeleton.

The Torosaur exhibit will be redesigned based on research conducted at the museum, depicting a brutal battle with another Torosaur that led to a puncture in the Dinosaur’s skull. Wright called the designs for the future “Torosaur clash” a “dramatic scene.”

The exhibit will feature audio simulating the sounds of the clashing animals to once again give visitors an immersive experience.

The Curtis L. and Jean E. Carter Cenozoic Hall

This section of the Time Travel gallery will be dedicated to the evolution of mammals, with exhibits like the Hebior Mammoth fossil and saber-toothed cats.

The Hebior Mammoth is currently exhibited near the entranceway at W. Wells St. In the future museum it will be in a display called “Hebior Mammoth Hunt.”

“It’s a story of predator/prey dynamics, coevolution, adaptation and human ingenuity,” Censky said. The mammoth display will also feature a diorama explaining how humans hunted and butchered the mammoths — playing a key role in their extinction.

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One thought on “MKE County: Museum Unveils Details of First New Exhibit”

  1. Polaris says:

    Nice! Looks like there’s space to walk right underneath the clashing torosaurs…

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