Dennis Kois resigns as CEO of Milwaukee Public Museum

Departs museum as it plans to move to a new downtown home

Dennis Kois

Dennis Kois has resigned as president and chief executive officer of the Milwaukee Public Museum, citing personal reasons.

Dennis Kois presented plans for the Milwaukee Public Museum’s new facility at an MMAC event.

Kois as been at the helm of the museum since 2014. His departure comes at a key time as the museum plans to move from its current, oversized facility at 800 W. Wells St. to a new building in downtown Milwaukee within the next decade.

“We want to thank Dennis for his leadership during the last four years during an incredibly important period for the Milwaukee Public Museum,” said Thad Nation, board member and co-chair of the museum’s strategic planning core committee. “Thanks to Dennis, the strengthened leadership team and the Board, the museum is financially secure and well positioned to continue our efforts to build our future home to serve the community for decades to come.”

The museum has been considering its future since 2015. After considering renovating its current facility, museum officials determined last year that moving out of the aging county-owned building was the best scenario.

Current plans call for a new four-story museum, encompassing a full city block, that will include an underground parking garage and a roof-top deck.

Kois said in July officials are considering more than 10 sites in and around downtown Milwaukee. The project is estimated to cost $100 million or more. A fundraising feasibility planning committee is currently working to decide the best approach to launching a capital campaign.

“Moving the museum toward understanding its future needs and path has been one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve undertaken in my museum career,” Kois said. “I’m certain the museum has a bright future ahead.”

The museum’s board will launch a nationwide search for his successor. Ellen Censky, senior vice president and academic dean for MPM, has been named acting president and CEO.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to take on the leadership of the Milwaukee Public Museum,” Censky said. “I am looking forward to working with our talented staff to build on the work that has been accomplished over the last several years.”

Nation said Wednesday the museum is in “the strongest position it has been in decades.”

“The board has full confidence in Dr. Censky, the full leadership team and the staff at the museum, and we are confident that we will not lose any momentum in our efforts to build a new home for the Milwaukee Public Museum,” he said.

Earlier this summer, Karen Spahn, who led MPM’s fundraising efforts for nearly 14 years, retired as senior vice president of development. Julie Quinlan-Brame took on that role in July.

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