Design unveiled for 200,000 sq ft extension of Milwaukee Public Museum

A design by American architects Ennead and Kahler Slater has been selected for a 200,000 sq ft extension of the Milwaukee Public Museum in the city’s Haymarket neighbourhood.

The five-storey “Future Museum” will contain an atrium and four levels of exhibition space, housing a planetarium, an Imax theatre and a garden with a butterfly vivarium on the rooftop. A 50,000 sq ft storage space will also be built to hold collections.

The design of the curved concrete and glass structure is inspired by geological formations created by glaciers more than 10,000 years ago in Mill Bluff State Park, and the three entrances echo Milwaukee’s location at the confluence of the Kinnickinnic, Menomonee and Milwaukee rivers.

Todd Schliemann, Ennead Architects’ design partner, said: “Like the diversity of Wisconsin, the museum building unfolds like a journey, full of surprises and wonder that will inspire visitors’ curiosity and make them peel back layers of understanding as they discover something different each time they come.”

Jarrett Pelletier, Ennead Architects’ associate principal, added: “We wanted to create a space that gave the feeling of wonder, like what we experienced throughout our trip around the state, as we saw these exceptional landscapes and met so many different people with stories to tell. There was much more to see and understand beneath every surface.

“We thought about this layered experience of discovery when designing the building. We wanted to make a museum that would reveal more with every visit and let people take their own journeys through the space, led by curiosity.”

The Milwaukee Public Museum is a natural and human history museum that opened in 1884.

Thinc Design worked on the extension’s schematic design phase and GGN acted as landscape architect.

Construction on the extension is due to begin in late 2023 and open in 2026.

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