The City of Milwaukee Plan Commission approved a zoning change for the future Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM), allowing the museum to take another step forward to starting vertical construction.
MPM is building a new 200,000-square-foot, six-story museum at North 6th and West Vliet Streets. The project costs around $240 million and will receive funding from the State of Wisconsin and Milwaukee County. The museum will move from 800 W. Wells Street and officials cited deferred maintenance costs upward of $100 million.
The six-member commission voted unanimously to approve museum officials’ request to change zoning of the new address from an industrial zone to a Downtown-Mixed Activity zone. MPM’s petition will go to the Common Council next. The council is set to meet July 31.
While seconding a motion to approve, Allyson Nemec, who is a city commissioner and principal design architect at Quorum Architects, lauded the project for aligning with the city’s downtown comprehensive plan.
“The whole zoning change is keeping with what we want to see in the area and being proactive in this development has been a joy to see,” Nemec added.
MPM officials expected construction to start in Summer of 2023 and the new museum to be completed in 2026.
The new museum will be built over the former Gustave A. Larson and the Milwaukee Auto Spa buildings. Crews will demolish a nearby office leased by Bartolotta to make way for the project.
Operating costs, potential to modernize and efficiency of the current building drove MPM’s new museum project, Aaron Hertzberg, the administrative director for the county, said. Deferred maintenance costs didn’t factor in operating and modernization costs, he added.
Exterior building designs are inspired by geologic formations of Mill Bluff State Park, Dr. Ellen Censky, museum director, said at the meeting. MPM officials asked designers to create a building that represents their mission as a natural museum, she added.
A quarter of the future roof will be used for the Bucyrus Rooftop Terrace, which will be used for outdoor space, classes and events, Censky said. The Bucyrus Foundation pledged a $2.5 million sponsorship to the terrace, she added.
Over the spring, museum officials and New York-based Thinc Design released a series of designs for the future five galleries. The galleries had overarching themes related to the city and Wisconsin and includes an extra gallery for travelling exhibits.
The five permanent galleries are “Time Travel,” “Wisconsin Journey,” “Living in a Dynamic World,” the Rainforest Gallery and “Milwaukee Revealed.” The final gallery is a successor to “The Streets of Old Milwaukee.”
Contracting firms ALLCON and Mortenson were tasked with museum construction management.