Demolition begins at future site of Milwaukee Public Museum

An excavator tears at the exterior of a warehouse at 1340 N. Sixth Street. The building is located on one three sites that will make up the final 2.4 acres site where the museum will be constructed (Cara Spoto/BizTimes)

Last updated on June 9th, 2022 at 02:34 pm

The Milwaukee Public Museum celebrated a key – and messy, and very noisy – step toward a new building on Tuesday morning with the beginning of site preparation where MPM plans to construct its new building.

Camera crews and reporters gathered at the northeast corner of West McKinley Avenue and North Sixth Street in downtown Milwaukee at 9 a.m. as a two-man crew from Robinson Brothers prepared their water tank and excavator.

“We have secured funding. We’ve worked through conceptual design and will have conceptual design completed soon, but to see the buildings coming down and the site making way is really exciting,” Milwaukee Public Museum chief planning officer Katie Sanders said, speaking to reporters. “This is really a great milestone for all of us.”

The 2.4-acre site where the new museum will be constructed consists of three parcels. They include 520 W. McKinley Ave., where The Bartolotta Restaurants offices are located; 1310 N. Sixth St; and 1340 N. Sixth St. The Milwaukee Public Museum acquired the properties for nearly $8.1 million.

“The reason we picked this site is because it so accessible to everyone in the community, right off (Interstate) 43, north side neighborhoods southside neighborhoods,” Sanders said. “This will offer great visibility to the museum and also a wonderful welcome to the city for those coming in from the McKinley Exit.”

The building at 1340 N. Sixth St. – a blighted warehouse – is the building that is coming down this week. The other two structures won’t be demolished until sometime next year.

Construction of the new museum building is expected begin in late 2023.

The museum has about four million objects and specimens in its care, Sanders said. Half of those objects will be moved into the new museum, with the other half being placed into storage once the transition to the new building is completed.

The $240 million project has secured $45 million from the county and $40 million in state funding, paving the way for the museum to go public with its planned $150 million fundraising campaign.

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Cara covers nonprofits, healthcare and education for BizTimes. Cara lives in Waukesha with her husband, a teenager, a toddler, a dog named Neutron, a bird named Potter, and a lizard named Peyoye. She loves music, food, and comedy, but not necessarily in that order.

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