Graham Kilmer

New Museum Gallery An Immersive Milwaukee Streetscape

Milwaukee Revealed offers immersive streetscape resembling Streets of Old Milwaukee.

By - Apr 14th, 2023 07:00 am

Milwaukee Revealed sketch. Image from MPM.

In honor of “Milwaukee Day,” or 4/14, the Milwaukee Public Museum has unveiled details about another new gallery for the future museum called “Milwaukee Revealed.”

The new gallery will allow visitors to explore an immersive Milwaukee streetscape lit to resemble Milwaukee at dusk, with exhibits based on the city’s commercial history and neighborhoods, among other things.

“As any Milwaukeean or MPM visitor knows, there’s more to Milwaukee than meets the eye,” said MPM President & CEO Ellen Censky in a statement. “Just as Milwaukee is an urban environment built on a rich natural landscape, Milwaukee Revealed will simultaneously explore the bustling business corridors and neighborhoods of the city, the unique ecology of the lakefront and waterways and the ways in which nature and culture come together in confluence to create the place we call home.”

The new museum is being planned as a $240 million facility at the corner of N. 6th St. and W. McKinley Ave that will be open by 2026. The five-story, 20,000-square-foot building is being designed to resemble a natural feature in Wisconsin: Mill Bluff. And the floor plan is intended to resemble the three rivers that make up the Milwaukee Estuary (Milwaukee, Kinnickinnic, Menomonee).

The “Milwaukee Revealed” gallery resembles the beloved “Streets of Old Milwaukee” exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum. In January, the public museum disclosed that “Streets of Old Milwaukee” would not move to the new museum and teased a future exhibit featuring “a highly-immersive walkthrough of Milwaukee that explores our marvelous city’s history, nature and cultures.” Milwaukee Revealed is that exhibit.

The details released Friday cover two sections of the future “Milwaukee Revealed” gallery, which are generally described as “Commercial” and “Neighborhood.” Throughout the Milwaukee Revealed gallery, the new exhibits will include immersive, interactive elements that allow visitors to feel like they are exploring the city, according to descriptions offered by MPM Inc.

The next future museum announcement will be on May 9, for a new gallery called “Living in a Dynamic World” and another area being designed for the new museum called “Mixing Zones.”

Commercial District

This part of the gallery will feature “a mix of historic and modern city landmarks,” MPM said. An exhibit of the Mitchell Building, for example, will also include an exhibit of Josette and Solomon Juneau‘s home which once occupied the same ground.

“Through choreographed lighting effects, the façade of the Mitchell Building will at times look solid, like any other wall, but once lit from the inside, visitors will see through the surface to find the silhouette of the Juneaus’ cabin – a hint at the stories they will encounter once entering the building,” said Chris Muller, Senior Exhibit Designer at Thinc Design and a lead designer for the Milwaukee Revealed gallery.

Other commercial exhibits include an immersive “Schlitz Palm Garden” that “will reveal the story of how German and Polish migration and labor, and access to natural resources like water, wheat and hops, led to Milwaukee’s famed beer production;” and one called “Cream City Medical Society” that will show “how the many ways of understanding care and practicing medicine have supported Milwaukeeans’ health and wellbeing through stories about holistic medicine, disease prevention and public health;” and the Lapham House, home of Increase Lapham, a scientist and a “key figure in the development of museums as we know them today.”

There will also be a number of modern and historic businesses and storefronts that will feature a rotating selection of collections items.


The Neighborhoods section of the gallery will “recreate a quintessential Milwaukee neighborhood street, mimicking domestic architecture commonly found in the city,” MPM said. Like the commercial district, Neighborhoods will offer immersive and interactive exhibits with “the kind of Easter eggs Museum fans love to discover.”

An exhibit called “Community Streetscape” will tell visitors about the “hidden systems that make modern living possible,” like the city’s water and sewerage systems, Muller said. “In other houses, visitors might glimpse animals like bats and squirrels that coexist with humans in the city and play and important role in our urban ecosystem.”

“Haymarket Candy Shop” will be both a functioning store and an homage to future museum’s location in the Haymarket neighborhood.

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One thought on “New Museum Gallery An Immersive Milwaukee Streetscape”

  1. Polaris says:

    This is so exciting!

    It sounds like they’ve really done a super thoughtful job–and are continuing to do so. From what I gather from here and other coverage, you’ll be able to walk through more of the buildings and that walls, floors and roofs will disappear as a matter of course, revealing what is behind them–systems, critters, historic structures, etc.

    I’m getting shivers and even tearing up a bit imagining walking through Milwaukee Revealed…

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