Proposal floated to build new Milwaukee Public Museum near The Domes

County task force will study possibility

The Mitchell Park Domes

A task force will be created to study the possibility of building the new Milwaukee Public Museum at Mitchell Park, next to the Domes horticultural conservatory.

The Mitchell Park Domes

The proposal was made by Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic under a 2019 budget amendment and approved Thursday during the board’s finance committee.

The museum plans to move from its current county-owned building at 800 W. Wells St. to a new $100 million or more building within the next decade. Museum officials are hoping to break ground on the project by 2022.

In July, the museum announced it was considering about 10 sites in and around downtown Milwaukee for its new home. On Thursday, Dimitrijevic said the number of sites had been “whittled down” to a couple, including land owned by the Milwaukee Bucks near the arena.

She said after having conversations with the museum board, the Mitchell Park site is now will be considered by the museum board.

“They see the potential for the synergies for both entities,” Dimitrijevic said.

Dimitrijevic said combining two great public assets could make both stronger.

Milwaukee Public Museum

“When I looked at the 2019 budget, I did not see anything that was more than status quo that moved us ahead on our Domes,” Dimitrijevic said. “If we have a bold vision, people will come and support it. We deserve it in Milwaukee. We have to fight for more. We deserve more.”

In a written statement, Ellen Censky, the museum’s interim CEO, said Mitchell Park is one possibility and the museum is interested in the task force’s findings.

“MPM is excited about our future and is continuing to explore many possibilities and potential partnerships,” Censky’s statement said. “As we explained earlier this summer when we shared several visions of what the future could look like, there will be many different potential locations and renderings envisioned in the coming months as we work through our options.”

The budget amendment approved Thursday has to be adopted with the county budget mid-November, before the task force will begin working on Jan. 1.

The director of the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Culture will chair the task force. Other members will include a representative from the county board, the county comptroller and representatives from the public museum and Domes.

The group will provide a report by March 2019. Dimitrijevic said the task force will amplify the work the citizen’s group has been doing for more than a year regarding saving the Domes.

The aging Domes are in poor condition with approximately $30 million in deferred maintenance.

The group will explore opportunities to combine marketing, educational programs and other functions between the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (The Domes).

Finance Committee Chairman James “Luigi” Schmitt said the Domes are in a tough situation, but if they can collaborate with the museum, it could be mutually beneficial for both entities.

“I think this is an exciting possibility,” Schmitt said. “It’s a little bit of a dream, but why not?”

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