Creating a new home connecting nature and culture

Milwaukee Public Museum
Future Museum

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Since their inception in 1882, the Milwaukee Public Museum has been mission-led: inspiring curiosity, exciting minds, and increasing desire to preserve and protect our world’s natural and cultural diversity. Needing significant repair and investment, the Museum determined their current home threatened their financial stability, the safety of more than 4 million objects and artifacts in their collections, and their ability to retain accreditation. MPM determined a new location and facility was required to secure the Museum’s future which is providing them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to create the active museum our community and world need now.

The design team of Kahler Slater, Ennead Architects, and Thinc Design are partnered to create an engaging state-wide asset that explores the interconnectedness of nature and culture, telling stories of how humans have been shaped by the natural world, and how our cultures have, in turn, shaped the world around us. The new location is adjacent to other entertainment, dining, and retail assets in the Deer District, and will provide abundant access to visitors from near and far via freeway and bus routes. Community engagement, inclusive design, and sustainability are significant factors in the development of the design.

Heavily influenced by the ecologies of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, the structure of the new museum will be reminiscent of the geological formations of Mill Bluff State Park and an homage to the area’s history, ecological diversity, and resilience. Inspiration was also pulled from Milwaukee, namely the three rivers—the Milwaukee, Kinnickinnic and Menomonee—that converge in the city.

Groundbreaking for the building is planned for late 2023, with the new Museum due to open in 2026.

“Our goal is to make sure that every child in this state feels welcome in this new facility, so that no matter where you come from, whether it's rural or urban, no matter what culture you're from, that you feel welcome.”

– Dr. Ellen Censky, Milwaukee Public Museum President and CEO

“As a Milwaukee native, I love the idea of the three rivers convening in a community space that's open to the public. It's a beautiful, stunning public space where anyone can come and really a way for the museum to take our mission so much further in terms of engaging with the community and the public.”

- Katie Sanders, Milwaukee Public Museum's Chief Planning Officer

“This is a bold project that will have a transformative effect across the state and around the world. With enthusiastic commitment of corporations, foundations and private citizens, and with the significant public investments made by the state of Wisconsin and Milwaukee County, we can create a multi-generational impact.”

- Jay Williams, Milwaukee Public Museum's former President and Campaign Co-chair