County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr.
Press Release

Milwaukee County Transfers Buildings to Milwaukee Art Museum

Agreement Saves County Tens of Millions in Maintenance Costs

By - Dec 18th, 2017 04:03 pm
O'Donnell Park as seen from the Milwaukee Art Museum

O’Donnell Park as seen from the Milwaukee Art Museum

MILWAUKEE – In an agreement signed today with Milwaukee County, the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) takes ownership of several buildings that make up its lakefront campus, along with O’Donnell Park and the parking garage beneath it. MAM will also assume responsibility for tens of millions of dollars in maintenance costs for the structures, while the county retains ownership of the land.

County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr. introduced the resolution transferring ownership of the O’Donnell Park structure and other buildings to the Milwaukee Art Museum in early 2016, after an effort to sell the O’Donnell parking garage and public park above it to Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance failed.

“This agreement saves Milwaukee County an estimated $28 million in deferred maintenance and future costs, and will cut in half our annual subsidy for the Milwaukee Art Museum after 2023. This is a good deal for taxpayers and promotes the use and enjoyment of Milwaukee County’s lakefront property for the benefit of the public,” said Lipscomb. 

MAM will assume responsibility for maintenance of the Kahler building, including the recently constructed East Addition, portions of the Saarinen Building it occupies, and the O’Donnell Park garage, along with the 9-acre O’Donnell Park above the garage. MAM also becomes the leaseholder of the Betty Brinn Children’s museum and Coast restaurant, located in the Miller Pavilion within the park.

The Milwaukee County War Memorial will assume responsibility for maintaining the portions of the Saarinen Building that it occupies.

The agreement relieves Milwaukee County of more than $28 million in estimated repairs and maintenance costs.

The Milwaukee Art Museum will gain new revenue from the O’Donnell Park garage, which is popular among museum patrons, and has promised to make significant improvements to the garage and the park space above it.

O’Donnell Park

Mentioned in This Press Release


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At 1:00pm on Tuesday, May 15, the Committee on Parks, Recreation and Culture will hear a report from the Interim Parks Director, as requested by the County Board of Supervisors, regarding the status of the Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market.

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3 thoughts on “Milwaukee County Transfers Buildings to Milwaukee Art Museum”

  1. mbradleyc says:

    Hey Ted. You going to do some fly fishing on the river once the salmon and trout are freed in Spring?

  2. Bill Sell says:

    $28 million. Is that a one-time savings? Annual?

  3. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @Bill – Savings over the life of the garage.

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