Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm
The new Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin has landed another corporate sponsor. Badger Meter Inc. is contributing $250,000 to help build the Liquid House exhibit at Discovery World’s City of Freshwater display in the new Pier Wisconsin, which is being built along Milwaukee’s lakefront. "The Liquid House will teach the value of water, helping visitors assess and predict the amount of water they use," said Richard Meeusen, president and chief executive officer of Badger Meter Inc. "With increased knowledge about how water is used, people will learn how to gauge the difference between what they use and what they actually need."
In collaborating on an exhibit at the new Discovery World, Badger Meter joins Rockwell Automation Inc., which is collaborating on the Dream Machine exhibit at the museum. Rockwell Automation contributed $2.5 million for the exhibit.
The Dream Machine exhibit will show Discovery World visitors how automation is used in Milwaukee landmarks, such as the Miller Park roof, and to make products. Visitors will also be able to use machines at the museum to make actual products.
Discovery World is a museum of science and economics. The museum has always worked to show the connection between scientific discovery and practical marketplace applications for those discoveries.
"It’s all centered around innovation," said Christine Rodriguez, Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin president and chief executive officer. "When you boil it down, it is all about innovation and creativity. It’s not just about gaining knowledge, but what do you do with that knowledge?"
Now that Discovery World is moving from its former site adjacent to the Milwaukee Public Museum to a new facility on the lakefront, Discovery World will also seek to demonstrate the importance of fresh water. The Liquid House fits in with that mission. At the Liquid House, Discovery World visitors will be able to learn how people use and measure water. The exhibit will also demonstrate engineering concepts tied to hydrodynamics and fluid power.
"Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin sits on the edge of one of the most valuable liquid assets on the planet," said Paul Krajniak, executive director of Discovery World. "Twenty percent of the world’s available surface freshwater resides in the Great Lakes. The City of Freshwater, with the Badger Meter Liquid House, will help the world understand the role each of us has in managing water resources."
The $59 million, 120,000-square-foot Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin facility will open on a limited basis, mostly for private events and summer camps, in June, and will open to the general public in September. The facility will have about 200 parking spaces, all underground.
The two-building facility includes a round building on the east end that hangs out over Lake Michigan. That building includes a banquet room, called the Pilot Room, with a 360-degree view of the lake and the downtown skyline. The room is large enough to accommodate 350 people seated for dinner or 500 people standing for cocktails. Bartolotta Catering Co. will provide catering at Discovery World in the Pilot Room and in other parts of museum. Corporate and other events, including weddings, will provide an important revenue source for Discovery World, which has already booked almost 50 events, Rodriguez said.
Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, which is owned by a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is taking great care to avoid the financial problems that have dogged other cultural institutions in Milwaukee, including the Milwaukee Public Museum, Rodriguez said.
"That sustainability is something we are paying top priority attention to," she said.
The museum has a $2.5 million reserve fund, "to help us sustain exhibits and keep it fresh," Rodriguez said.
The museum expects to attract about 300,000 to 350,000 visitors during the first year. Discovery World is preparing for attendance to drop off after the novelty of the new museum wears off, Rodriguez said.
"We’ve been very conservative in our projections and our pro-formas," she said.
However, Discovery World executives are optimistic that the museum will provide a unique experience that people will visit more than once and will attract visitors from outside the metro area. No other museum in the country combines science and the natural world with economics and the business world the way Discovery World does, those executives say.
"The whole concept of Discovery World is to bring people in, motivate them and encourage them to go out into the world and make their own discoveries," Rodriguez said.
To supplement the revenue received from museum guests and from catered events, Discovery World also plans to conduct an annual fundraising campaign, Rodriguez said.
Philanthropist and founder of Marquette Electronics Michael Cudahy is the largest donor for the Discovery World project, but his exact contribution has not been disclosed.
The museum’s marketing efforts will focus on the "iPod generation: young people between 16 and 27 years old."
About 95 percent of Discovery World’s exhibits will be new, and only about 5 percent will be brought over from the location at the Milwaukee Public Museum, Krajniak said.
All of the exhibits will be interactive, Rodriguez said. They will include a 100,000-square-foot Lake Michigan freshwater aquarium, a 70,000-square-foot saltwater aquarium and a full-size replica of a 19th century Lake Michigan schooner.
Construction of the schooner, called the Challenge, is partially complete. It will be hung so visitors can walk underneath it on the first floor and walk onto the ship from the second floor. The S/V Denis Sullivan, another replica schooner which is used as a floating classroom, will be based at Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin.
Other exhibits will include Life Jet City, where museum visitors will learn how entrepreneurs turn knowledge into wealth; The Hive, a virtual environment created by Discovery World and Milwaukee Area Technical College; and Great Lake Future, a scale representation of the Great Lakes.
Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin also will include two high-definition theaters and a lakefront promenade, which will be open to the public for no charge.
"What we hear from a lot of people (who learn about the project) is that Milwaukee does not realize what is coming to the lakefront," Rodriguez said. "There really isn’t anything like this in the country. It’s just going to be a wonderful addition to the lakefront."
The museum is promoting its location as a special place situated between "blue sky and blue water," and wants to show how the natural world, demonstrated by the lake, co-exists with the built world of the city. The expansive windows in the building allow visitors to see that relationship right in front of them.
"This is not a museum that has you hidden away," Krajniak said. "The real Discovery World is outside of this building."
Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin
120,000 square feet
When it will open to the public
Expected first year attendance